Police Scotland have launched a new awareness campaign to tackle wildlife crime in Scottish cities, towns and rural areas.
Nearly 250 wildlife crimes were recorded by Police Scotland between April 2014 and February 2015 including persecuting badgers, poisoning birds of prey and trading in some of the world’s most endangered species
The number of recorded wildlife crimes has increased slightly, up ten on the previous year. The detection rate has also increased over the same period by nearly 13 per cent to a 77 per cent detection rate.
Police Scotland works with partners across the country to tackle wildlife crime and in the new campaign, it calls on the public to be aware and to report suspicions of criminal activity either direct to the police or through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAWS) app.
Launching the campaign Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “Scotland’s natural heritage is under threat from criminals preying on the country’s iconic wildlife, either for sport or many cases for their own gain. Wildlife crime doesn’t just happen in the countryside, it also occurs in urban areas. We have evidence of badger baiting place metres from housing estates, deer being poached from city parks, and bat roosts being destroyed. Wildlife crime occurs across all of our communities.
“Tackling wildlife crime is not just about law enforcement it is about working with partners and the public to raise awareness and to prevent it happening. By the time we are involved it is too late, that creature is lost and our landscape is poorer for the loss.
“We are committed to investigating wildlife crime. Our detection rate is increasing but investigations into wildlife crime can be difficult and prolonged and the areas covered can be vast and remote.
“Our new campaign calls on the public to help us put an end to wildlife crime, to keep their eyes open and reporting suspicious activity and by working together, protecting Scotland’s wildlife heritage.”
Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Management, and Chair of PAW in Scotland said: “I am delighted to support this wildlife crime campaign by Police Scotland who are a critical element of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime. In Scotland we have long recognised the value of our wildlife and the importance of protecting it. Today sees the launch of this important campaign by Police Scotland which will play a key role in raising awareness about wildlife crime and what people should do if they encounter it.
This campaign will also be supported by the wider PAW Scotland membership who will help spread these messages across Scotland.”
The campaign, featuring birds of prey and other protected species, will run on Police Scotland and partner websites, on posters and in newspaper ads and will be pushed out across social media channels. The campaign will run throughout the year.