Posts Tagged ‘National Wildlife Crime Unit’

WCU funding under threat again?

February 1, 2016

It doesn’t seem that long since we reported that the National Wildlife Crime Unit’s funding was under review and that it was at risk.  Well, here we are again with much the same issues.  Ministers have failed to confirm it will be funded after March this year.

It’s not a great amount of money, considerably less than the annual alcohol subsidy in the Houses of Parliament.  Public funds for public benefit?

Wildlife crime might not be the top of the ‘green c**p cutting’ politicians agenda but there are links with animal cruelty and unregulated illegal gambling.  Significant sums are wagered on the outcomes of badger baiting with dogs and with hare coursing, and it is the profits which fund the trade and practice of digging.

According to James Fair in the February edition of BBC Wildlife, “The government has made much of its £10m package to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.  The public deserve to know whether the NWCU is to be a part of that.” 

The role of NWCU is more than just about wildlife crime, recent conversations with a local Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) revealed the astonishing links with other crimes, with wildlife related aspects simply a piece of a much larger jig-saw.  Criminals will deal in whatever they can that will make them easy money, be it poaching, baiting, illegal raptor persecution or trespass to undertake any of the activities mentioned.  Poachers might partake of celebratory drink after a successful ‘action’ in a local hostelry and mention of unprotected vehicles and machinery in isolated barns might see the next job is being lined up?  We must all be vigilant and work collaboratively for the benefit of the community and nature conservation.

Perhaps we might also consider that the New Year’s Resolution of a monthly letter to a Minister, MP or other worthy recipient might be one which asks that the NWCU funding is assured for the remainder of the current political term, that is to say, 2020?

If you want to help IFAW in the matter then sign up to their action to Rory Stewart MP Parliamentary Under Secretary Environment & Rural Affairs, asking for continued funding for NWCU.  Remember though, lots of separate letters carry more weight than a campaign, that’s not to say you couldn’t do both?

If you see wildlife crime, then report it. 

Call 101 to speak to a local Wildlife Crime Officer.

 

Useful information about reporting wildlife crime can be found on a number of web sites, for example (but not exclusively):

Birders Against Wildlife Crime

Government Advice  Published in 2010, updated 2014 so a little out of date.

RSPB

League Against Cruel Sports

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‘Moor grousing’ …. Defra answer …. at last

September 2, 2014

Red Grouse TM

The epetition created by Dr Mark Avery Ban driven grouse shooting has at long last received a reply of sorts from a nameless Defra bureaucrat.  It is provided verbatim below:

The e-petition ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ signed by you recently reached 16,828 signatures and a response has been made to it.

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: It has been estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities that provide significant benefits for conservation. Shooting makes an important contribution to the rural economy. When carried out in accordance with the law, shooting for sport is a legitimate activity, and our position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so. Landowners are free to manage wildlife on their land, provided it is carried out appropriately and legally, in accordance with any the relevant wildlife legislation. Hen Harriers It is encouraging to learn that there are four hen harrier nests this year which have chicks, given that in 2013 there were no known hen harrier fledglings in England. Some of these fledglings will be tracked with satellite tags we have funded. The Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group was set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in Hen Harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority and the RSPB. Defra welcomes the involvement of all parties. The Sub-group has developed a draft Joint Action Plan containing a suite of complementary actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier population in England. We are working with Sub-group members to finalise the Plan. Illegal killing of birds of prey The killing of birds of prey is illegal, all wild birds being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who kills or injures a wild bird is committing an offence and could face jail if convicted. Bird of prey persecution is one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities. The England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group leads on action to address these crimes through prevention, intelligence and enforcement activity. The National Wildlife Crime Unit gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey, providing assistance to police forces when required. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that the Home Office and Defra would together provide funding until 2016, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime. Alongside this, there have been successful conservation measures which have led to increases in buzzard, peregrine and red kite populations over the last two decades. Peatland In February 2013 we, along with the devolved administrations, made a statement of intent to protect and enhance the natural capital provided by peatlands in the UK. In September 2013 the Pilot Peatland Code was launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of UK peatland through business investment. It is intended that the Code will assure restoration delivers tangible benefits for climate change alongside other benefits such as restoring habitats for protected species and improving water quality. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of conservation initiatives (such as Nature Improvement Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest) many of which are focussed on peatland restoration in the UK. We are working with a wide range of partners on peatland restoration, including land owners and environmental NGOs. Rural Development Programme We are committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, which are endowed with natural assets that are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing. We will be investing over £3 billion in agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship and its successor) in the next Rural Development Programme 2015-2020. Addressing loss of biodiversity will be a priority for the new Programme. In addition funding will look to maximise opportunities to deliver biodiversity, water quality and flooding benefits together. Defra is working with a wide range of interests to finalise scheme details in good time for 2015. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

View the response to the e-petition

Thanks,

HM Government e-petitions http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/

140818 Middlemoor butt hrk 430

Do readers think it actually addresses the issue?  There are some excellent comments made about it on Avery’s blog post.  Unless I need to go to specsavers there is very little which provides any confidence that there is serious intent to tackle the crime.

The petition currently has 16,912 – help get it to 100,000 so that they have to discuss the issue in the Westminster village.


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Mark Avery

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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