Wild Justice meets top cops
‘Is poaching a wildlife crime?’ is a question I’ve wondered many many times and still haven’t really come to a satisfactory conclusion.
Its without doubt a property crime, and it involves wildlife, but is is really a wildlife crime. This is more than a vexing esoteric brain teaser for me…if the police commit limited resources to say deer poaching then they cannot spend those resources on what I would suggest were more pressing crimes like pearl mussel fishing or raptor persecution which have a greater ‘conservation’ impact.
Like with hare coursing and badger baiting, the police always reckon that poaching can lead to catching ‘crims’ who are engaged in a wider range of illegal activity and, while I don’t doubt that’s true, I’m still troubled by the use of ‘wildlife crime’ resources to address these crimes.
There may be some benefit in closer liaison with gamekeepers and gillies by this approach, but there is the risk of getting too friendly with the perpetrators of other and in my view more pressing wildlife crimes. Poaching etc. can also be the gateway by which gamekeepers get onto Partnerships for action against wildlife crime (PAW), where they make hay in distracting the partnership from raptor and other more pressing wildlife crime.
I’d like to hear a thorough and coherent and cogent argument from the police on the inclusion of poaching, because I think its in there as a wildlife crime priority only because of the organisations and representative bodies which make or made up the original PAW type partnerships.
My own view is that this sort of property crime should be removed from the ‘wildlife crime’ list and added to ‘rural crime’ along with fuel theft, quad stealing etc. and address the limited police resources to more pressing crime with a harmful conservation impact.