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New wildlife crime training for Scotland after rise in poaching

The rise in poaching and crimes against endangered species has led to the launch of a new wildlife investigation course in Scotland.

Police Scotland announced it will enable more officers to tackle crime in rural areas after an increase in offences against protected species and environments.

The force revealed there had been a two per cent increase in offences including cruelty to wild animals and illegal hunting. Thefts from mussel beds, poisoning rare birds of prey, egg collecting and hare coursing were also reported to police.

In response, the force has created the Wildlife Crime Investigators course runs over five days covering investigative techniques, forensic recovery, how to work with partner agencies and firearms legislation.

The UK has seen an increase in wildlife crime of all kinds due to the value of animals or their habitats. There is also the global threat from the illegal international trade in endangered species.

For Police Scotland there is also the impact that crime has on communities who rely on wildlife for employment and tourism.

But the force is limited in how it can respond given the scale and diversity of the area it covers. The boundary covers 28,168 square miles, covering a third of the United Kingdom’s landmass that includes moorland and mountain ranges, islands and remote communities.

The Scottish Wildlife trust said: “Sadly, crimes against Scotland’s wildlife continue to be an all too common occurrence and affect a wide range of wildlife and habitats.”

The response has been to focus on prevention, intelligence gathering and enforcement and the new officers will be deployed to work with the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland which includes land managers, conservationists and the Scottish Government.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan Sloan, Major Crime and Public Protection, said: “Scotland’s wildlife habitats cover vast tracts of land, often in remote areas, where the discovery of a suspected offence can be made days or weeks after the event.

“This new course is designed to build on our current capability, to enhance the skills and knowledge   of our officers in what is a specialist area of criminal investigation. We want to ensure that we have officers who are experts in the investigation of the wildlife crime in all of its forms,” he said. 

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