Poaching can have a significant effect on our rural communities, and on the environment more generally. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by police forces at a local level.
A network of Police Wildlife Crime Officers throughout the 43 forces in England and Wales provides the backbone to investigating wildlife and environmental crime, including poaching.
Poaching is already one of the priorities of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which exists to support police forces and their wildlife crime officers in their efforts against wildlife crime. It is funded by the Home Office and DEFRA, as well as the governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland, ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) and ACPOS (ACPO Scotland).
The National Wildlife Crime Unit's priorities are tackling badger baiting; CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora); Bird of prey persecution; Poaching; protecting nesting bats; and protecting freshwater pearl mussels. The Unit has a police officer dedicated to supporting the police forces of England and Wales in tackling poaching.
There are already strict controls in force on the export from the UK of endangered animals and plants. These controls are based on EU legislation that implements the 1973 Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and requires all EU member states to impose CITES controls both at import and export. Any illegal CITES protected animals or plants intercepted at UK ports and airports are liable to seizure by Officers of the UK Border Agency.