Comment and analysis by Leicester Green Party, and its fellow-travellers
At the moment, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) is nearing the end of its funding. On 05/02/2014 the NWCU was given a two-year lease of life after being threatened with closure as part of the UK’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime & the illegal wildlife trade. It’s unclear whether this commitment has been forgotten by the current Government but at the moment there is no promise of continuing the unit beyond March 2016. Some of the priorities of the unit are hare coursing, persecution of badgers & raptors and the ivory trade. These issues seem to be becoming worse as in neighbouring Lincolnshire alone the police have arrested/summoned 152 people for hare coursing since 1st September 2015, whilst badger persecution is likely increasing & elephants are predicted to become extinct in our lifetime unless poaching is dealt with.
In Leicestershire the police have recently issued warnings over hare coursers in Hinckley & Bosworth, whilst badger baiting is known in Charnwood & raptors are targeted, as in the red kites that were poisoned in 2011 near Rutland and the barn owl that was shot in 2014 in South Leicestershire. Foxes are also illegally hunted for sport in the area (see here, here & here). Most wildlife crime groups accept that these known incidents are the tip of the iceberg & every single incident deprives countless people of the joy of seeing these wild creatures, so the UK needs to make a choice – it either cares about wildlife crime both home & abroad or it doesn’t. Those that do should support the campaign to protect the National Wildlife Crime Unit, and do so quickly!