The Government has confirmed that it will fund the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit for at least the next four years. Funding for the unit was due to expire at the end of March 2016 and it appeared to be facing a very uncertain future. Funding from DEFRA and the Home Office has now been secured to enable the work of the unit to continue until at least 2020.
The National Wildlife Crime Unit supports police forces throughout the UK in preventing and detecting wildlife crime. The unit has a team of specialist officers who provide assistance with investigations. In the UK wildlife crimes include:
- Bat persecution
- Hare coursing
- Deer poaching
- Fish poaching
- Badger persecution – including baiting, snaring, shooting, and disturbance of setts
- Egg theft / collection
- Bird of prey persecution – through poisoning, trapping, shooting, disturbance of nest and/or theft of chicks
In the UK, bat populations have declined considerably over the last century. Bats are still under threat from building and development work that affects roosts, loss of habitat, the severing of commuting routes by roads, and threats in the home including cat attacks, flypaper and some chemical treatments of building materials. Other potential threats can include wind turbines and lighting if they are sited on key bat habitat on near roosts.
Great crested newt populations have declined over the last century, not just in the UK but across Europe. The species is under threat from development of buildings and infrastructure, pollution and farming practices. Construction of buildings and roads can directly affect newt habitat such as ponds and foraging areas, and can lead to fragmentation of habitat. Pollution of ponds can render breeding habitat unsuitable for use. Intensification of farming can lead to loss of ponds from the landscape, fragmentation of newt foraging and commuting habitat and degradation of breeding ponds by increase in nutrient levels and sediment.
If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action call 999 immediately and ask for the police.
For all other enquires call your local Police on 101. Alternatively, contact your local Police Force directly.