The Home Office and DEFRA have pledged £136,000 for the next financial year.

But no decisions have been taken about funding the unit beyond 31 March 2014.

Nevin Hunter, head of the NWCU, told Shooting Times: “We are delighted that funding has been secured for the year ahead and are grateful to all who have supported us.”

“The co-operation of shooting and conservation organisations and their members has been vital in helping us to address illegal activity such as poaching, hare coursing and raptor persecution. We look forward to building on this work over the next year.”

The NWCU’s continuation for another 12 months was welcomed by BASC, which works closely with the Unit to combat crimes such as poaching and the persecution of birds of prey.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of gamekeeping, said: “The NWCU plays a vital role in co-ordinating intelligence on wildlife crime. BASC looks forward to continuing to work with NWCU.”

The Countryside Alliance (CA) also said it welcomed the news.

But Adrian Blackmore, moorlands manager at the CA, told Shooting Times: “Given the current economic climate, it is essential that the NWCU focuses its finite resources on the most pressing wildlife crime issues and does not allow itself to be distracted by misleading or inaccurate information.”

He added: “With regard to bird crime, it is the figures for confirmed incidents produced by the NWCU that must be regarded as official data, and it is these that should be used — not those provided by other organisations, the reliability of which can all too often be open to question.”

UK’s Wildlife Crime Unit wins reprieve from government cuts.

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