Grampian Police have launched two schemes aimed at raising public awareness of wildlife crime, which they hope will lead to a reduced level of offences across the north-east of Scotland.
Members of the force’s Wildlife Crime Unit unveiled a series of wildlife information cards and boards at the Scottish Natural Heritage headquarters in Aberdeen, which aim to change behaviour, as well as to assist the public in identifying instances of wildlife crime.
Police and conservationists hope to raise awareness of the impact of marine craft on wildlife, and to encourage crew to moderate their speed appropriately. Dolphins, whales and porpoises are a popular sight in the waters around the north-east, and dolphins in particular are naturally sociable and inquisitive. This can bring them into contact with operators of marine craft, and there have been cases of dolphins being injured through contact with vessels, and of being left disturbed and scared.
Information boards, which will be installed by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society thanks to funding from Mearsk Oil and Optima, will be placed at harbours around the north-east, in order to give operators of craft such as boats and jet skis advice on how to avoid committing wildlife crime.
“Cetaceans are an important part of our natural heritage and as such are fully protected by law”, said Chief Inspector Janice Innes.
“Crime prevention through education and awareness raising initiatives are an important part of police work. These boards are a good example of a simple yet effective way of getting the correct messages across.”
In another move to raise awareness of general wildlife crime, 30,000 information cards produced with a grant from The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland are to be distributed.
These are designed to give the general public advice and information on how to recognise when wildlife crime is committed, and what action they should take.
The launch of the campaigns has coincided with the appointment of new full-time Wildlife Crime Officer Constable Gavin Lindsay, who has taken the role over from PC Dave MacKinnon.
If you have information on wildlife crime, please contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.