Many of Northern Ireland’s native species are under threat of wildlife crime, according to a new campaign which has been launched.
‘Watch out for Wildlife Crime’ is a Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW NI) campaign to encourage everyone to get serious about all forms of wildlife crime and help to prevent it.
It aims to raise public awareness of what a wildlife crime is, why it’s important, things to be avoided and how to report anything suspicious.
A wildlife crime involves any action against any protected wild animal or plant which contravenes current wildlife, environmental, game or animal welfare legislation protecting Northern Ireland’s wild animals and plants.
Wildlife crime covers a broad spectrum and can include everything from salmon and deer poaching, disturbing and killing of badgers, killing of birds of prey, disturbance of nesting birds and the uprooting of wildflowers.
Speaking at the launch of the ‘Watch out for Wildlife Crime’ campaign, Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan said: “We have launched this campaign to highlight to the people of Northern Ireland activities which are potentially harmful to so many of our native wild species.
“We aim to educate people that sometimes their actions inadvertently cause significant harm to wildlife. Of course there are also other elements which involve much more extreme forms of criminality; those who target wildlife inflicting great cruelty for their personal pleasure or those who illegally exploit or target our wildlife for financial gain.
“Our starting point is to drive increased awareness of what wildlife crime is and why and encouraging them to report it or seek advice, so that we keep this as a priority and work towards dramatically reducing all forms of wildlife crime.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland lead for Rural and Wildlife Crime Superintendent Brian Kee and member of PAW said “The Police Service of Northern Ireland today, along with partners in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, call upon the public to ‘Watch Out for Wildlife Crime’. This campaign seeks to prevent Wildlife Crime from occurring by raising awareness and encouraging people to report a wildlife crime”.
“But let’s be very clear – those who intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or disturb protected wild animals or wild flowers are criminals and deserve to be brought to justice. So anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour or suspects a wildlife crime is taking place or has occurred contact the Police Service on 101, or in an emergency ring 999. The report will be fully investigated and where evidence of a criminal offence is found the offender will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service with a view to a prosecution.
“Or anyone who wishes to report information anonymously can ring the independent charity CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.”
The campaign is delivered by The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Northern Ireland (PAW NI) which is comprised of statutory and non-government organisations involved in protecting against wildlife crime.
For more information visit the ‘Watch out for Wildlife Crime’ webpage on: www.wildlifecrimeni.org.