Trading standards and police join forces in bust of suspected poaching racket

Posted on: 21 January 2016

Five have been arrested in North Devon following a two and-a-half year police investigation into poaching.

On January 20 officers from  Devon and Somerset Trading Standards, Avon & Somerset and Devon & Cornwall Police, Environmental Health and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, visited nine premises in the Barnstaple area.

Using Trading Standards and Food Safety powers along with a number of warrants obtained under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, business and residential properties were searched by officers as part of investigations into alleged offences surrounding poaching and the illegal supply of meat into the food chain.

Two men aged 37 and 42 were arrested for poaching offences and bailed until the 9th March and two men aged 19 and 57, and a 53-year-old woman were also been arrested in connection with firearms offences and have been bailed until the 18th March.

Meat samples are being tested to establish the species of the animal product on sale.

Carcasses were also located at a number of address and further tests will take place to establish the type of weapon used to kill these animals.

Cash, phones, computers and other weapons were also seized.

Sgt Andy Whysall from the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “This type of joint operation sends a clear message to those who don’t believe that wildlife crime is taken seriously.
“By working together with our partners we have the ability to deal with a wide range of offences and those involved in wildlife crime, poaching and trading standards offences are brought to justice.”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with Cllr Roger Croadresponsibility for Devon and Somerset Trading Standards 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.

“With agencies working together we hope to be able to look beyond where the police have traditionally looked to combat poaching.”

Anybody with information about poaching should contact their local police on 101.

Posted in: Environment