Wildlife crime going unreported, warn police
Badger baiting, poaching and attacks on birds of prey are going unreported in Northern Ireland, the police warned today.
While some incidents of wildlife crime have been investigated, many go unpunished because of a failure to pass information to officers.
The PSNI, which is a member of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Northern Ireland (PAW NI), called for more help to find those responsible.
Wildlife Liaison Officer Emma Meredith said: "It is to the advantage of all to stop wildlife crime as, by doing so, we are protecting our natural heritage - something which belongs to all of us.
"After all, the significance of this kind of crime cannot be under-estimated. At the most serious level it can have a direct impact on the economic, environmental and cultural lives of communities and can also negatively affect the conservation status of some native species.
"A united approach, with all incidents being reported to police, will help bring about a situation where wildlife criminals have nowhere to hide."
PAW NI works with the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
Alan Roberts an investigative support officer with the unit outlined the types of crimes that were being committed.
"Over the past few years there have been reports of different kinds of wildlife crime," he said.
"These run the gamut from badger baiting, poaching, destruction of birds' nests , destroying or disturbing bat roosts as well as birds of prey persecution."
Over the next few months PAW NI will be drawing up a plan to tackle wildlife crime.
It will attempt to identify those crimes that should be priorities and look at effective ways of dealing with them.
"The ability to work together is crucial to the success of any effort to fight wildlife crime," added Mr Roberts.
The appeal for more information was made following the launch of a new PAW NI leaflet, which sets out details for the public including an overview of the work of PAW NI, a list of partner organisations, practical advice on types of wildlife crime and steps everyone can take to help reduce crimes against our natural heritage.