BORN FREE JOINS CHARITIES TO CALL FOR ACTION TO TACKLE WILDLIFE CRIME
Reports of wildlife crimes in England and Wales rose 17% in 2018, according to the Third Annual Wildlife Crime Report released today by wildlife charity networks Wildlife and Countryside Link and Wales Environment Link.
A total of 1,324 reports of wildlife crime incidents against bats, badgers, birds of prey, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals were collected by charities in 2018, a 17% increase since the first wildlife crime report for 2016.
However, conviction rates remained extremely low, with only 11 individuals or businesses convicted.
Born Free’s Head of Policy, Dr Mark Jones, said: “The Link report shines a light on the sheer scale of wildlife crime in the UK. However, it only covers those crimes on which the member charities collect data. Major concerns, such as illegal hunting with dogs and poaching, are not covered in this report, and the real extent of wildlife crime, and animal suffering, will be much higher.
“The rhetoric from government about tackling international wildlife trafficking is very welcome, but if we want to be taken seriously on the international stage there is a clear need for us to get our own house in order.”
In spite of these worrying trends, most wildlife crimes in England and Wales are not officially recorded by the Home Office, so the government lacks the comprehensive evidence needed in order to target enforcement resources effectively. By contrast, in Scotland most wildlife crimes have been officially reported and recorded since 2011, and Scottish ministers have a duty to produce an annual wildlife crime report on which policy can be based.
Born Free and its fellow Link members are calling on the government to:
- Commit to permanent and adequate funding of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and other enforcement agencies, and to fully support the implementation of the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy
- Make all wildlife crimes notifiable and recordable, and to produce a comprehensive annual report analysing the scale and trends in wildlife crime in order to inform policy and resource allocation;
- Support the development of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Specialist Wildlife prosecutor Network
- Facilitate the development of clear and comprehensive sentencing guidelines in order to ensure the punishments for those convicted reflect the damaging nature of the crimes and act as a strong deterrent
- Raise awareness among the wider public of the extent and scope of wildlife crime, and to encourage the public to report any suspicions of crimes against wildlife.