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RSPB Media Release

Despite evidence that wildlife crime is a threat to some of our most threatened species, Government has ignored the advice of a committee of MPs by refusing to provide long-term financial security for the National Wildlife Crime Unit. They have also ignored some simple recommendations to turn up the heat on wildlife criminals in England and Wales.

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s conservation director. Commenting on the Government’s announcement, he said: “Every year threatened species are killed illegally, putting some species at a great risk. Despite ministerial assurances that tackling wildlife crime is a ‘core priority’ and the Government being given a clear roadmap by a group of MPs on how to tackle wildlife crime, Ministers have ignored these recommendations.

“The Government’s rejection of even simple wildlife crime measures at this crucial time displays a worrying lack of commitment to tackle this significant conservation issue.”

In October last year, the Environmental Audit Committee, under the chair of Joan Walley MP, investigated wildlife crime and made recommendations, including: ·        

  • Securing long-term funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit;·        
  • Tightening up controls on poisons used to kill birds of prey, allowing offences of possession to be linked to tougher sentences.

Martin Harper said: “We’re also very disappointed by the Government’s response to introducing vicarious liability legislation, which would allow landowners to be prosecuted for crimes committed by their employees and make a real difference to tackling bird of prey persecution.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers supported vicarious liability in its evidence to the Committee, and the Law Commission is considering the merits of such an approach in England and Wales.

Martin Harper added: “We urge Ministers to give careful thought to the Law Commission’s forthcoming recommendations on reforming and strengthening wildlife laws in England and Wales.”

The protection of birds of prey is one of six, nationally-agreed wildlife crime priorities. In the UK: illegal persecution is known to affect the conservation status of both the golden eagle and the hen harrier. Last year in England, just one pair of hen harrier nested successfully: there is space in England for at least 330 pairs.

Martin Harper added: “The Government has committed to avoid any human-induced extinction of species before 2020 – losing the hen harrier as a breeding bird from England would see it fail to keep that promise.”


Related Articles:

Now it’s Official, England’s Raptors don’t require added Protection says the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries. We urge everyone to read what the Defra Minister’s response was to members of the House of Commons to a question he had recieved from MP Angela Smith, (Penistone & Stockbridge, South Yorkshire) 30 June 2011, Raptor Persecution.

Whilst an individual like Richard Benyon in charge of Defra, and responsible for the implementation of new legislation to protect England’s wildlife resources, nothing will change, persecution will continue despite the Minister’s false claims that the existing wildlife laws are up to the job. Just as important, the Minister stated “if they are not being effectively enforced, they must be and we will take steps to make sure that happens.” Clearly this is one Minister who is not prepared to do what he has promised to do.

The main question we should now be asking the Defra Minister, if he is not prepared to keep the promise he made to all members of the House of Commons in 2011 to enforce the legislation relating to wildlife, who’s interests is he protecting? Clearly it’s not England’s threatened and persecuted wildlife he has a statutory obligation to protect.

Wildlife Crime: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report of Session 2012-13 – Environmental Audit Committee Contents


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