OPERATION WILDERNESS TAKES OFF
RSPB welcomes Police operation to tackle bird-crime in Devon
The RSPB has welcomed a major operation by Devon and Cornwall Police to tackle wild bird crime in Devon. Spearheaded by county Police Wildlife Crime Officer Josh Marshall Operation Wilderness will use covert camera’s to collect evidence on the illegal disturbance of some of the county’s rarest and most vulnerable birds.
The Operation is a response to last year’s shocking series of crimes against birds of prey in the county. In separate incidents four goshawks, a buzzard and a peregrine were all found poisoned.
Tony Whitehead of RSPB South West said; “Crimes against wild birds continues to be a problem in Devon and Cornwall. In a survey recently the area was identified as the fifth worst in England. We remain particularly concerned about the spate of bird of prey poisonings last year and persistent threat from a small but obsessive community of egg collectors. There is also growing concern about a small number of reckless and irresponsible wildlife photographers who disturb sensitive species.”
The cameras were kindly donated by The Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society. The intention is to place them at pre-identified locations within Devon at the nest sites of previously targeted species and of species that are considered vulnerable to persecution or disturbance. Volunteers have been identified who will locate the difficult to find nest sites and place the camera in situ. All of these persons will be acting under the necessary license. The camera will be left in place for the duration of the nesting attempt. The cameras will not be able to stop an attempt on the nest or birds. However, it will hopefully be able to provide sufficient evidence to assist with a prosecution.
Tony Whitehead added; “This is a great initiative by the police and we hope that the knowledge that key species are being watched in the places they nest will deter the people that carry out these crimes. And make no mistake, killing or disturbing threatened species is a crime. If convicted such crimes will result in either a fine and, or, a prison sentence.”
“We also hope it will remind people to remain vigilant themselves and report to the police anything they think suspicious.”
If anyone has information regarding bird crime they can call the Police on 101 and then the RSPB on 0845 466 3636. All information is handled in the strictest confidence.