Action plan to tackle wildlife crime in North-east

A three-year action plan to tackle wildlife crime has been launched in the North-east.

It focuses on identifying hotspots and having specific measures in place to deal with different types of offences including raptor crime, salmon poaching and hare coursing.

There is also an emphasis on partnership building with landowners.

The Grampian branch of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland strategy is a local collaboration between Police Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and the Scottish Government.

It aims to work closely to raise awareness and prevent crime.

Inspector Colin Mowat, PAW Steering Group chair, said: “The North East enjoys 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 Grampian PAW Action Plan supports a vision where our natural heritage is protected, individuals are educated about wildlife crime and where there is a high level of awareness of the cost of wildlife crime and the loss of wildlife to our communities.”

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, said she was encouraged to see the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime working at a local level with real engagement.

She added: “The Grampian PAW group is leading the way in how local issues are dealt with and are an excellent example of what can be achieved when people come together.”

Ian Francis, RSPB Scotland conservation manager, said: “We very much welcome this updated strategy and the commitment of Police Scotland along with all partners.

“Unfortunately there are still those who deliberately break the law and harm our local wildlife and this strategy shows the strength of will to bring this to a halt.

“RSPB Scotland will play a full part in ensuring this happens.”

Ewen Cameron, operations manager with Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “Wildlife is an important and growing part of Grampian’s economy and brings enjoyment to many people who live in and visit the area.

“But like all crime, wildlife crime undermines legitimate activities, so we are keen to support Police Scotland in this fight.”