A strategy to tackle wildlife crime for the next three years has been launched in the north east at Crathes Castle, Banchory.
The Grampian branch of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland action plan 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. The focus involves working closely with partners to raise awareness and prevent crime from occurring.
The group 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 hare coursing. There is also an emphasis on building partnerships with landowners.
Inspector Colin Mowat, the Chair of the PAW Steering Group, 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.
“In Grampian, 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 Grampian’s 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.”
Ian Francis, Conservation Manager for RSPB Scotland 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, 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.”
Justin Prigmore, Cairngorms Nature Officer, Cairngorms National Park Authority said:
“The Cairngorms National Park is renowned as one of the best places in Scotland for nature and an international tourism destination. We fully support this partnership across the north east to ensure our nature is protected and the reputation of the National Park and wider region is not undermined by wildlife crime.”
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, said: “I am very encouraged to see the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime working at a local level with very real engagement. 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.”