Launch of strategy to tackle wildlife crime in the Highlands
16th March 2016
A strategy to tackle wildlife crime for the next three years was launched on Monday 14th March 2016 been launched in the Highlands.
The Highland branch of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland action plan is a local collaboration between a number of organisations including Police Scotland, Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, National Farmers Union Scotland, Association of Salmon Fishery Boards and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association to name but a few. The focus involves working closely with partners to raise awareness and prevent crime from occurring.
The Highland Environment Forum has run for many years and this strategy and action plan will seek to harness the many interests of all parties, to ensure that criminal activity is prevented and where it does occur is actively prosecuted. It focuses on identifying hotspots and having specific measures in place to deal with different types of crime including raptor crime, salmon poaching and deer poaching. There is also an emphasis on building partnerships with landowners.
Chief Inspector Colin Gough said: The Highlands enjoy vibrant and diverse wildlife. This is a privilege and one we do not take for granted. Threats to our natural habitat through criminal activity and ignorance are not acceptable. The Highland PAW Action Plan supports a vision where our natural heritage is protected, individuals are educated about wildlife crime and there is a high level of awareness of the cost of wildlife crime and the loss of wildlife to our communities.
"In the Highlands, we are fortunate to have a wide range of groups and individuals who have specific interests in different aspects of wildlife. Over the next three years we will seek to utilise, facilitate and encourage their participation in protecting the local wildlife, in deterring criminals who seek to destroy our wild heritage and in preventing wildlife crime.
"Our strategy and action plan provides us with a focus for the next three years and places a degree of expectation on each partner to deliver tangible benefits in the commitment to address wildlife crime.
"I am also pleased to advise that PC Dan Sutherland has been appointed as a permanent Wildlife Crime Officer for Highland and Islands Division following a successful six month pilot. We are committed to tackling wildlife crime in the area and having a full time resource to focus on it and the HPAW strategy will make significant benefits.
PC Dan Sutherland said: I am delighted that my time as Wildlife Crime Officer has been extended and made permanent. I am looking forward to help the new HPAW strategy forward.
Chris Conroy, Director of Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, said: A strong local partnership is key to tackling salmon poaching. By raising awareness, enforcing the law and preventing the illegal exploitation of fish, we aim to maximise the numbers of salmon going on to spawn successfully, and in so doing safeguard the future of this important natural resource.
Ian Wilson of NFU Scotland said: "We in the farming industry welcome the formation of this group and hope that through education, enforcement and local buy-in we will see a reduction in wildlife crime throughout the region. Farmers in general are concerned by the nature of those carrying out many crimes such as hare coursing and poaching that they may also be linked to other types of rural crime and thefts from farm premises.
Councillor Audrey Sinclair, Chairperson of Highland Council's Panning, Development & Infrastructure Committee, said "We welcome this new group, which we hope will tackle wildlife crime by addressing local concerns and raising awareness of the issues in Highland through a collaborative approach. It has been set up following discussions at the Highland Environment Forum and represents a key step forward in delivering this aspect of the Highland Single Outcome Agreement and Highland Biodiversity Action Plan 2015-2020.