Record high wildlife crime levels could be worsened by new Government law, warn wildlife campaigners - Wildlife & Countryside Link

Figures collected annually by nature organisations reveal that wildlife crime rates remained stubbornly high in 2021, following record highs in 2020

Convictions for most wildlife crime types rose in 2021 from record lows in 2020, with hunting and bat crimes showing the biggest proportional increase in conviction rates (although from low baselines).

Campaigners are warning reductions in wildlife protections in the Retained EU Law Bill could see further rises in wildlife crime and are calling on Government to stop the Bill and make crucial improvements to wildlife crime monitoring and enforcement recommended by the UN

The annual Wildlife Crime Report compiled by Wildlife and Countryside Link, with information from groups including RSPB, WWF UK, and the League Against Cruel Sports, has shown that crime against wildlife in 2021 was at record levels. Wildlife crimes include, for example, hare coursing, persecution of birds of prey, badgers and bats, disturbance of seals and dolphins and illegal wildlife trade.

In England and Wales there were 1,414 reported wildlife crime incidents (outside of fisheries), almost exactly the same level as in 2020 (1,401). There were 3,337 fisheries crime reports in 2021, down from 4,163 in 2020. The scale of wildlife crime is likely to be far higher than the report details, due to lack of official recording and monitoring of most of the data relying on direct reports from members of the public to nature groups.

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Wildlife crime soared during the pandemic and remained at record levels this year. Progress on convictions is positive, and we welcome DEFRA’s efforts to stiffen sentencing, but overall that is of little use while the rate of successful prosecutions remains so low. The snapshot in our report is likely to be a significant under-estimate of all kinds of wildlife offences. To get to grips with these cruel crimes, the Home Office should make wildlife crime notifiable, to help target resources and action to deal with hotspots of criminality.”

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Posted On: 29/11/2022

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