We're Crime Capital for Wildlife Cruelty; One in Eight Offences in the North East

Article excerpt

Byline: Raf Sanchez

HUNDREDS of offences against animals have made the North East the wildlife crime capital of the country. Figures obtained by The Journal show that more than one in eight offences against animals in the UK took place in the Northumbria Police area.

Over a 12-month period there were 737 offences in the Northumbria Police area, including badger baiting, illegal hunting, poaching, bat persecution and hare coursing.

Wildlife officers said the number of crimes against animals in the area had risen because of the recession.

PC Andy Swinburne, wildlife crime officer for Northumberland area command, said: "I think in terms of rural and wildlife crime there has been an increase since the credit crunch.

"We are seeing a large increase in the poaching of deer which can be shot or killed by use of 'lamping' or dogs."

PC Swinburne said that lamping - where a bright light is shone into the face of an animal causing it to freeze and making it easy to kill - was the most common method used by poachers.

Meat is either stripped from the carcase at the scene or it is hidden and retrieved later on. The meat of a large male dear can be worth up to pounds 100.

PC Swinburne said: "These are commodities which are easy to sell on to outlets that are willing to take the risk of buying them."

The figures on wildlife crime between August 2008 and July this year show 27 cases of badger persecution, eight cases of bird eggs being stolen, three poisoning incidents and 135 cases of poaching, 24 of them involving the poaching of deer. …

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