Search Results for: wildlife crime

OneKind | Fox hunting foot packs & wildlife crime on Scotland’s public land

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) submitted by Edinburgh-based wildlife charity OneKind has revealed that Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) has continued to allow fox hunting foot packs access on its land since a previous exposé in Spring 2020 (mirroring the situation in England where Forestry England had allowed so-called ‘trail hunting’ to take place despite information that hunts were breaking the law). The FOI also reveals that FLS have been unable to stop ongoing wildlife crime which has been taking place on Scotland’s public lands since 2016, and which FLS suspect to be committed by gamekeepers. External reports of ‘out of control’ hounds in the FOI also highlight just how weak Scotland’s fox hunting legislation is and why reform is urgently needed.

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Wildlife Crime | Yet more lenient sentencing

“A man found with a collection of almost 200 eggs has been sentenced today at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court. Terrance Potter, 63, was given a 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, for offences relating to the taking and possession of wild birds’ eggs.” The RSPB Investigations Team are incredibly hard-working individuals. They do a difficult job because they love birds and want to do what they can to protect them. How frustrating must it be to prosecute a repeat egg thief like Terence Potter, who was caught with hundreds of bird eggs from a number of different protected bird species, many targeted precisely because of their rarity, to see him given a laughable 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months and a paltry fine of £120 costs and £128 victim surcharge. Could our wildlife charities not ask their huge membership to campaign for change, to make sure that politicians understand that we want our wildlife protected from kleptomaniacs and serial law breakers. And if we can help in any way, please ask…

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Why is it so hard to prosecute wildlife crime?

“All wildlife crime investigations are extremely complex and without sufficient, strong evidence, it can be very difficult to bring about a successful prosecution. We know this is frustrating to members of the public and it is frustrating to our officers but we can only act within the legislation available.” (North Yorks Police ). While there is no doubt at all that some police officers on some forces actively support illegal fox hunting (either because they hurt themselves or their colleagues do) the Hunting Act (ie the legislation) needs strengthening to remove the exemptions which make evading the law so easy and pursuing hunters in court so difficult.

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Guest Post | Coronavirus – A Potential Cover for Wildlife Crime & Cruelty?

‘The coronavirus pandemic has brought huge and necessary changes to our way of life. Public health is at the forefront of all our minds – and rightly so. But there will be consequences of our lockdown for many other species. Wildlife crime thrives out of the public gaze and has the potential to wreak untold suffering whilst we are all confined to our homes. In particular, wildlife on grouse shooting estates will have chillingly little protection this springtime – and the lockdown falling during this season could have even more deadly consequences.’ Guest post by Moorland Monitors.

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PCC Elections | Wildlife and Countryside Link

Wildlife and Countryside LINK (often referred to as just LINK) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together fifty-eight organisations that work for the protection of nature (there are also LINK groups in Wales and Scotland). The Wildlife Crime Working Group is one of LINK’s sub-groups and they have written to all of the PCC candidates inviting them to state whether they will commit to help end widlife crime – or at least make tackling wildlife crime a priority. As we’ve been detailing in a number of posts, the electorate has largely been fairly apathetic when it comes to electing PCCs. Turnout in 2016 (the last time elections were held) was under 30%. This really matters because even a small increase in voter numbers could have a very real effect. It’s not just the pro-wildlife side that realise that of course. In January this year leaked documents from April 2020 indicated that the pro-hunting lobbyist group Vote OK was seeking to influence the elections,,,Information on the candidates is now widely available. Please, if you value our wildlife make sure you know what your local candidates stand for and what they are likely to do if they’re put in to power.

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Suffolk police and the Wildlife & Countryside Act

The following blog post was sent to us on behalf of Suffolk-based George Millins, and highlights an issue that we have highlighted many times on this site: wildlife legislation ONLY EVER protects wildlife when it is enforced. If the agencies supposed to be enforcing the law (in this case Suffolk police) don’t know or understand the legislation (the Wildlife & Countryside Act), that protection is often lost and important species destroyed. While the site involved here may have been small, as the post points out, the slow-worms and common lizards present on it were supposed to be protected from killing and injury by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

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Wiltshire | Hunting Office seeking to influence Police and Crime Commissioner elections?

According to a new website called ‘Hunting Leaks’ (which was set up to help instigate multiple GDPR claims against the Countryside Alliance, a fascinating story in itself and well worth reading), the Hunting Office (the infamous ‘leaking like a sieve’ hunting coordinators that developed a series of seminars designed to help fox hunts make themselves appear legitimate – fifteen years after the Hunting Act came into force) are apparently raising funds to influence outcomes in the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections. We know this because Hunting Leaks has provided a link to the minutes of a Hunting Office meeting where this was discussed last year. So what to make of the Hunting Office raising funds to help get people like, for example, Jonathon Seed into office? Mr Seed was until relatively recently the only candidate standing for the role of PCC in Wiltshire, a largely rural county with a large number of active fox hunts. Including the Avon Vale Hunt (which often hunt around Lacock in Wiltshire) – of which Mr Seed is a former huntmaster…

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Operation Wingspan | A year-long wildlife campaign

In October this year a twelve-month campaign was launched to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland, based on the seven wildlife crime priorities set out by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. All are extremely damaging to wildlife. In 2016 the UN estimated that the annual value of illegal wildlife trade was as high as $23billion, putting it behind only the drugs trade and human trafficking. Badger persecution – including baiting, illegal development, and sett blocking/destruction – is magnifying the already disastrous impact of the government sanctioned slaughter of badgers on behalf of the dairy trade. All the UK’s bat species are protected by law but developers are still destroying roosts and nurseries. Freshwater Pearl Mussels may seem like a more obscure concern, but this once common mollusc is listed by the IUCN as Endangered and the only viable population left in England is in Cumbria: there are more viable populations in Scotland but these are also under threat of decline. Hare coursing is an enormous problem for a species that is already suffering from huge declines because of agricultural intensification. Raptor persecution is – as anyone reading this site will know all too well – a massive problem on shooting estates, where protected birds including Hen Harriers are routinely eradicated to protect shooting profits. Cyber-enabled wildlife crime, an ‘umbrella’ term for crimes which either take place online or where technology is a means and/or target for the attack, is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities across the world.

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