Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Government has been criticised for failing to take "simple measures" to tackle wildlife crime such as the poisoning of birds of prey which has blighted the Westcountry.
Ministers rejected calls by MPs to guarantee long-term funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit – led by
and Cornwall Police Inspector Nevin Hunter – in order to ensure it can fight
such crime effectively, including monitoring criminal activity on the internet.
The Environment Department and Home Office have each committed £136,000 to the unit for its running in 2013-14 and no decision on funding for 2014-15 has yet been made, the Government said.
In its response to a report by the Environmental Audit Committee on wildlife crime, the Government also rejected steps to criminalise possession of the main poison – the pesticide carbofuran – used to kill birds of prey.
Two years ago, four goshawks, three peregrine falcons and a buzzard were found poisoned in Devon and
The MPs said the Government should bring in the order listing proscribed poisons "to send a clear signal that it regards poisoning birds of prey as wholly unacceptable" and make it easier to secure prosecutions.
But the Government said existing laws already make the sale, supply, storage and use of carbofuran illegal, with unlimited fines upon prosecution, and that it is a crime to use a poisonous substance to kill or take wild birds.
Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB in the South West, said: "Our network of wildlife crime officers do a great job.
and Cornwall Police's Operation Wilderness, launched last year, introduced
sophisticated surveillance equipment to help guard rare bird of prey nests.