Game Act 1831
Status: Current legislation
|Text of the Game Act 1831 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk|
The Game Act 1831 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom which was passed to protect game birds by establishing a close season when they could not be legally taken. The act also established the need for game licences and the appointing of gamekeepers. The act still covers the protection of game birds to this day.
Game covered by the Game Acts
The Game Act designated certain species as game birds, and their open season (when they may be shot):
- Red grouse (Moor Game), 12 August – 10 December
- Black grouse (Black Game), 20 August – 10 December
- Pheasant, 1 October – 1 February
- Partridge, 1 September – 1 February
- Wild Chicken, 1 October – 1 March
As well as adhering to the seasons, game may not be taken on Sundays or Christmas Day.
The great bustard was protected under this act, with its open season decided as 1 September – 1 March. This protection was little use however, as the great bustard became extinct in Great Britain in the 1830s. It is currently part of a reintroduction program.
Capercaillie are not protected in this act as they were extinct in Britain at the time. They were reintroduced to Scotland in 1837.
Brown hares are mentioned in this act but have no closed season. Two hares acts were passed in the 19th century. The first in 1848 permitted the issuing of game licenses, where hunting could take place, and the banning of baiting with poison. The second in Act in 1892, among other things, prohibited the sale of hare meat between March and July which is the animals' breeding season.
The act made it lawful to take game only with the provision of a game licence. Also, to deal in game the act made an excise licence necessary. 
The Game Licence was abolished in England & Wales on 1 August 2007, as well as the need for game dealers licences and the law changed to make selling game, except hare, year round legal.  In Scotland, it is still necessary to have a game licence to shoot game.
The act listed requirements on the appointment of gamekeepers, and the issuing of a gamekeepers licence on an estate.
Although not included in this act, a game licence was required to shoot woodcock and common snipe until 1 August 2007. Wildfowl are protected and their close seasons stated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.