‘Stop Poaching’ campaign launched

Posted on: 21 October 2015

The public is being urged to help catch poachers who are stealing animals, potentially causing them unnecessary suffering and risking contaminated meat entering the food chain.

Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service have teamed up with other agencies to form South West Anti-Poaching Group to help catch the criminals.

This group is made up of the Police and their National Wildlife Crime Unit, Trading Standards, Food Standards Agency, Environmental Health Departments, the Environment Agency, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Crimestoppers.

This week is the National Wildlife Crime Awareness Week and sees the launch of the ‘Stop Poaching’ campaign.

Poaching in the 21st century is often carried out by organised criminal gangs, and the practice can lead to meat ending up in restaurants, hotels or being distributed by meat suppliers.

Because poachers operate outside of their legal obligations, there is a risk that unhygienic meat processing practices could lead to a number of potential health risks – Tuberculosis and E.coli have both previously been associated with wild venison.

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Environmental Services, said: “Poaching is no longer always about a lone poacher taking something home for their larder, but an organised criminal operation where deer, fish and livestock are taken and often sold on for it to end up in restaurants, hotels or with meat suppliers.
“These people are in it for financial gain, and linked to other types of criminality.
“There have been instances of poachers trespassing and then shooting or using dogs to take deer and threaten landowners.

“Obviously there is no legal control over the welfare of the animals
“With agencies working together we hope to be able to look beyond where the police have traditionally looked to stop this.”

Wildlife Crime Officer PC Martin Beck said: “We want to find out where the meat is going, where it is being butchered and stored who is buying it and where it is being sold.
“In some circumstances there maybe a cash reward.”

If you have noticed anything suspicious you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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