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Tackling wildlife crime

Wildlife Minister Huw Irranca-Davies set out the government’s wildlife crime priorities for 2009-2010, including poaching, crimes against bats and the illegal trade in endangered species, and urged people to help combat the criminals.

Birds of prey and a near-extinct shellfish are among the animals earmarked top priorities in a strengthened fight against wildlife crime in the coming year.

The freshwater pearl mussel, once widespread throughout Europe, is now extremely rare and outside of Britain and Ireland is found in less than 50 rivers worldwide, while birds of prey such as hen harriers are under threat from nest destruction and deliberate killing.

Police and customs officers will work with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, conservationists, countryside groups, wildlife traders and owners to focus on the new priorities, which are based on the numbers of crimes or the effect crime is having on the future of a species.

Action will include stronger, coordinated responses to wildlife crime, specialist training for enforcement officers, raising awareness of wildlife crime and encouraging people to report crimes, and intelligence to identify, detect and prosecute the criminals involved.

Huw Irranca-Davies said:

“People and communities can help us in the fight against wildlife crime. Nobody can afford to sit on the fence and let these crimes go unpunished.

“Wildlife crime matters, it has an impact on our environment and on the ecosystems, habitats and wildlife that supports our very existence. Information and intelligence are going to be key in this fight, we need to tackle these crimes through effective partnerships.”

Mr Irranca-Davies also announced that Britain is taking over the chairmanship of the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking this summer.

by S. C.
26 february 2009, Food & Fun > Nature