On 22 May, Michael Russell, the environment minister, backed recommendations made by Paddy Tomkins, HM chief inspector of constabulary in Scotland.

Mr Russell also revealed a £220,000 funding boost over the next three years to tackle the “unacceptably high” level of wildlife crimes.

Mr Russell hopes the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime will be strengthened with the new cash boost through Scottish Natural Heritage.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell said: “Poisoning figures for 2007 show little improvement on 2006 — and it’s not just poisoning, but badger baiting shows an increase and hare coursing continues to be a problem.”He added that deer poaching figures are rising and the abuse of their habitat is getting worse: “This is all an abuse of Scotland’s natural heritage. That is a crime.”

Mr Russell commented that the Tomkins report provided a “blueprint” for professionals investigating wildlife crime. More than 60 cases of wildlife crime go before the courts in Scotland each year, investigating offences such as birds of prey being poisoned, hare coursing, poaching and badger baiting. The Tomkins report has recommended each police force to designate a senior police officer to oversee wildlife crime issues.

The rest of this article appears in 29 May issue of Shooting Times.

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