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2012 archive

20 January 2012

Protecting our Wildlife

The second commencement of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in Scotland on 1 January. Amongst the legislation implemented was a new law of "vicarious liability", making landowners potentially responsible for the actions of their staff that break wildlife laws.

Also commenced on the 1st of January were changes which bring into force a new closed season for hares and changes to both the deer act and snaring law. For the full story and further information on all these changes please click on the link below.

Read the full story


7 February 2012

Award for Brian Stuart

Detective Inspector Brian Stuart of the NWCU has been awarded a special commendation for his dedication to helping combat wildlife crime across the UK. The International Fund for Animal Welfare award was present by UK Environment Minister, Richard Benyon at a ceromony in London.

Read the Full Story


9 February 2012

Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 2011

The Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 2011, is now in force. The Order came into force on 24 November 2011 and updates the current list of approved traps with an additional sixteen traps, and also removes The Aldrich Spring Activated Animal Snare for use in Scotland. It also revokes The Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 1996.

 Please see the following link to The Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 2011:

You will see that the trap use instructions for the DOC 150/200/250 series of spring traps are referred to in the Order and these can be found at:

 The following table lists the new spring traps which have been added to the Order.

 The 16 New Spring Traps


14 March 2012

Mapping bird of prey poisoning

Locations of bird of prey poisoning incidents in Scotland in 2011 are revealed in the latest ‘hotspot map’, which is published today.Bird of Prey Poisoning Map 2011 (2)

The maps published by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) outline the number and general location of confirmed illegal poisonings in 2011, and cumulative figures for 2007 to 2011. A total of 10 poisoning incidents were recorded in 2011 resulting in 16 dead birds of prey including 7 buzzards, four red kites and a golden eagle. This compares to 22 incidents and 28 birds of prey poisoned in 2010.

Poisoning Hotspots>>

To view the map 2011>>

To view the map 2007 - 2011>>

Read the Scottish Government News Release>>


4 April 2012

Operation Easter

As we get into the bird breeding season, so starts Operation Easter - an annual response to stop egg thefts from nests across the country. Originally a Tayside Police initiative, this now national Operation seeks to raise awareness of egg thefts with the public and to also act as a deterrent for would be thieves.

Read the Full Story


16 April 2012

Scotland Leading the Fight Against Wildlife Crime

An Australian wildlife crime investigator has praised the work of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS) and the high levels of co-operation between its members. Steve James has been awarded sponsorship to conduct a fact-finding mission about the emerging technologies, intelligence tools and forensic science used in Scotland to investigate wildlife crime.Steven

Steve said: "I was extremely impressed to see the level of commitment from the Scottish Government and how the different agencies collaborate to not only tackle wildlife crime but wildlife conservation."

His ten day visit included meetings with PAW staff, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Scottish Advice for Science and Agriculture (SASA) and many others.

He also shared from his own experience of tackling environmental crime in Australia, plus his 18 year police career which has included time in the Sexual Crime Squad and Homicide Squad. With all this experience he understands the difficulties investigating wildlife crime: "I’ve been known to say it’s easier to prove a murder than it is to prove someone cut down a tree."

Steve, 41, is the Acting Chief Investigator at the Specialist Investigation Unit of the Office of Environment and Heritage in New South Wales. He was extremely impressed with his visit to the NWCU in Livingston. "The fact that they have a dedicated, intelligence cell, solely for wildlife crime is way ahead of the majority of jurisdictions around the world."

Nevin Hunter, head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said:

"Meeting Steve was very useful. Listening to him and the challenges he faces reiterated how far we have come over recent years with partnership working, to address wildlife crime in Scotland. It is great to think that learning from our experiences Steve can positively impact on wildlife crime in his part of the world."

Whilst at SASA, Steve learnt about their forensic and DNA work from Dr Lucy Webster and Elizabeth Sharp. He commented that a dedicated forensic scientist would be of real benefit in Australia. During his visit to TRACE Wildlife Forensic Networks, he met with one of the Directors, Dr Rob Ogden. TRACE promotes the use of forensic science in the investigation of wildlife crime, and the modern techniques available to assist law enforcement. Steve is part of a group that is establishing a similar network in Australia and found the advice from Rob to be invaluable. 

Steven JamesSteve’s trip ended with a visit to Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park where he spent time with PC Paul Barr. Steve has responsibility for National Parks in New South Wales and found that they experienced similar issues such damage to infrastructure, fires, and litter. Keen to get out of the office and onto the Loch, he said: "This area is truly beautiful, and like Australia, it makes you wonder why people want to ruin it."

His trip was sponsored by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which awards Fellowships for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chosen field that is not readily available in Australia. After his trip to Scotland, Steve’s next destination is the USA to see the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has also visited Interpol in Paris, France.


25 May 2012

First RSPB Birdfair in Scotland

The first ever RSPB Birdfair north of the border was held in the grounds of Hopetoun House the weekend of the 19-20th May 2012. The weather finally warmed up a little and there was no rain, no doubt encouraging more to venture out.  Visitors numbered around 4000 over the course of the weekend.

The aim of the event is to showcase Scotland’s birds and wildlife and raise awareness of them with the Scottish general public, whilst also giving bird enthusiasts a chance to hear talks from wildlife experts and browse the latest optics on the market.Minister at bird fair 2012

The PAW caravan was on site all weekend, manned by Lothian & Borders and Fife Police wildlife crime officers. There was steady footfall to the caravan and good feedback was received about our presence at the show and the pocket sized “How to Report a Wildlife Crime” cards.

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change and PAW Chair Stewart Stevenson, made an informal visit to the show and was accompanied by RSPB Director Stuart Housden.

Stuart Housden said: “The inaugural Scottish Birdfair showcased Scotland’s unique natural environment, our birds and wildlife, and the great work done by wildlife charities and volunteers up and down the country.  We were delighted to have the Minister attend as well. It’s important we all Bird Ringing Jerry Wilson 2012continue to work hard to protect Scotland’s special places and wildlife and we are pleased to be part of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime.  We hope to see support for conservation and care for the environment continue to grow, and tourism in this sector develop sustainably in the years ahead.”

 The Minister said “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Birdfair and found it both interesting and informative. Getting up close to the birds which had been ringed was also a delightful opportunity not often available. It was also interesting to hear first hand about the economic benefits of wildlife tourism from countries as far afield as India and the USA. I hope to see the Birdfair going from strength to strength.”

Thanks to Julia Harrison, Parliamentary Officer, RSPB for the photograph.



15 June 2012

Summer Events 2012

Summer has arrived and the PAW Wildlife Crime Unit will make its usual appearances at the main events of the Summer season. The PAW Wildlife Crime Unit is an asset used by the partnership to attend various events around the country.

You can find the caravan at the Royal Highland Show on the weekend of 21st June - 24th June and also at the GWCT Scottish Gamefair over the 29th June - 1st July.

Please come along and join us - we look forward to meeting you!


31 October 2012

Freshwater Pearl Mussel Blog

Peter Cosgrove has worked on the globally threatened freshwater pearl mussel species for 17 years. He has written a fascinating guest blog about his experiences. The full article, Mollusc of the Glen, can be read on Mark Avery's Standing up for Nature website.


15 November 2012

Final Places Remaining at Fife Wildlife Crime Seminar

Fife police are aiming to tighten their grip on crimes like poaching and badger baiting, with a second wildlife crime seminar at their headquarters in Glenrothes.

The move follows their highly successful first seminar in May which attracted over 90 Fife land owners, game keepers and field sports enthusiasts.

Fife Constabulary Wildlife and Environmental Crime Co-ordinator PC Ian Laing says: "The last event saw solid relationships being forged between the police and those who live, work and use their leisure time in the Fife countryside. Those effective relationships help to build up communication and squeeze down crime which is to all of our advantage."

PC Laing is extending a warm welcome to those who attended the last event, and to interested parties who may wish to attend the second. He says, "We have taken on board the observations made by those who attended the last seminar and all of the subjects being discussed were asked for by those who attended."

The seminar on 22nd November will include an update on current trends in rural crime and a discussion on gamekeeping in areas of high badger density. Additional inputs will examine firearms and their use, with emphasis on handguns. It'll also look at deer management, exploring how legislative changes will continue to affect land managers.  Doors will open at 7.00pm with speakers beginning their presentations at 7.30pm. Anyone with an interest should book their places through PC Laing on 0845 600 5702 or

PAW Scotland has welcomed the second seminar. Spokesperson Louise Batchelor says: "The work being done by Fife police is very valuable and is in line with our partnership approach which aims to increase the pressure on criminals by raising awareness of wildlife crime and improving communication with all of our stakeholders and the public."


23 November 2012

Changes to Snaring Legislation

Snaring is commonly used in Scotland as a means of control for some predator and pest species and must be carried out in accordance with the requirements set out in section 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

From 22nd November 2012, a snaring operator who has successfully completed a snaring training course can apply to their local police station for a unique identification number which must be attached to all snares set from 1st April 2013.

Successful completion of the snaring training course will provide an indication that the applicant has sufficient knowledge and experience to use snares responsibly and within the legislative requirements. The identification numbers and tags will make snaring operators more accountable for their actions as the identification number and tag will help identify the individual snaring operator.

Further information about the training courses and the use of Identification numbers and tags can be found in:

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012

The Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012

and in the Scottish Government website's Wildlife Management section.


28 November 2012

Launch of New Book on Wildlife CrimeCover of Wildlife and the Law book

'Wildlife and the Law', a new book by wildlife crime expert Alan Stewart, was launched at the PAW Scotland Executive meeting in the Scottish Parliament today. The book is a field guide, designed in part to help prevent wildlife offences being committed, whilst also providing the reader with enough information to recognise and respond to an offence in cases where prevention has failed.

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Paul Wheelhouse, congratulated Alan on the publication of his latest book and said
"Alan has dedicated his life to policing and continues to make a significant contribution to the work of PAW Scotland and the wider public by bringing this complex area of law to life in an interesting and informative read."

Alan Stewart is a retired police inspector. During much of his earlier uniformed career he specialised in dealing with poaching cases, particularly salmon poaching on the River Tay, and deer poaching. As well as receiving an MBE in 2000, he has also been awarded Scottish Wildlife Enforcer of the year and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the WWF. Alan has taken up writing in his (scarce) spare time, with his first book, Wildlife Detective, published in 2007. He also assists the National Wildlife Crime Unit, and still sits on the PAW Scotland Training and Awareness group.

As well as wildlife law, the new book includes separate chapters on cruelty to domestic and captive animals, a brief chapter on offences relating to dogs, and one on offences committed against Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The price of the book has been heavily discounted thanks to a grant from PAW Scotland.

Details on how to order a copy can be found on Alan Stewart's Wildlife Detective blog.


12 December 2012

Scottish Police Officer Awarded for Fight Against Wildlife Crime

(l to r) Dr Dan Barlow, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland handing award to retired Superintendent Alan Smailes outside WWF Scotland's offices in Dunkeld. Photo Credit: Dennys Campbell/WWF Scotland

Retired Superintendent Alan Smailes of Grampian Police in Aberdeen has received a WWF-Sponsored Lifetime Achievement Award for his hard work and dedication to tackling wildlife crime. The retired Superintendent set up one of Scotland's leading wildlife crime forces, which brought wildlife crime into mainstream policing within Grampian Police.

Receiving the award Mr Smailes said:

"I am delighted to receive this award both on a personal basis and because I believe it reflects the commitment and enthusiasm shown by Grampian Police and the Grampian PAW partners in working together to address wildlife crime. I believe we have something special in Scotland and it is our duty to protect it for future generations."

Photo Credit: Dennys Campbell/WWF Scotland

WWF and the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) organised the award, and presented it at WWF-Scotland's office in Dunkeld, Perthshire.

During his career, Alan Smailes played a strong role in increasing awareness of threats to wildlife, helping launch a schools education pack to teach schoolchildren about wildlife crime. His innovation has changed the way wildlife crime is addressed, creating crucial processes for gathering evidence and intelligence to protect our native wildlife and ensuring enforcement measures were met.

Dr Dan Barlow, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland (pictured above with Alan) said:

"I am delighted Alan has received this award. It's always highly motivating and reassuring to hear of the amazing achievements of wildlife law enforcement officers who have dedicated so much time and energy protecting wildlife, both in the UK and beyond its borders. Alan's work, and that of the other nominees, goes to show how crucial the enforcement of wildlife law is in the UK, and we hope it will continue to be sufficiently supported by government and enforcement authorities."

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Paul Wheelhouse, Chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, said:

"Scotland's wildlife is an integral component of what makes Scotland unique as well as being vital to our tourism sector and the wider economy. It is through the dedication and hard work of individuals like Alan, supported by communities, that we can ensure Scotland's precious wildlife is protected. I'd like to congratulate Alan for receiving such well-deserved recognition for his work, for which I offer him my sincere thanks, and I wish Alan every success and happiness for the future."