Operation Wingspan – Police Scotland raise awareness of raptor persecution

In October 2020, Police Scotland launched a 12-month-long campaign called Operation Wingspan to raise awareness of wildlife crime. The campaign focuses on the seven wildlife crime priorities set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

The seven wildlife crime priorities are currently:

Badger persecution

Bat persecution

Raptor persecution

Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

Freshwater pearl mussels

Poaching (deer & fish) and hare coursing

Cyber-enabled wildlife crime

Operation Wingspan is currently focusing on the illegal persecution of birds of prey. Police Scotland and the RSPB have produced a short video to explain:

Regular blog readers will be unlikely to learn anything new from this video but that’s no reason to criticise it. It is clearly aimed at new audiences who may not even understand that the term ‘raptors’ refers to birds of prey, let alone have any awareness that these birds are protected but still illegally trapped, shot and poisoned, especially on land managed for game bird shooting.

And reaching new audiences is exactly what is needed. This subject has come a long, long way in terms of raising public awareness in the last decade but there’s still much more to do. The more people that are aware of these crimes, the more pressure will be loaded on politicians to pull their fingers out and take meaningful action instead of twiddling around at the edges year after year after year, too afraid to take on influential landowners.

8 thoughts on “Operation Wingspan – Police Scotland raise awareness of raptor persecution”

  1. Good stuff. I do know the training about wildlife crime was rather scrappy, piecemeal and uncoordinated so glad to see that’s been improved, that sends out a strong signal in itself. The shots of grouse moors in the video showed how bloody bleak and lifeless they are – hopefully more and more people will also realise how they connect to ‘disappearing’ birds of prey and the general lack of wildlife across large parts of the country.

    1. Examples i can quicklu think of -Buying illegal animal parts online, arranging illegal hunts online, posting trophy pics, poachers using webcams to find out iftheir spot is being checked in on,etc If it invovles the internet, even as part of planning, it would count as ‘cyber enabled’ even if the crime happens in real life

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