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:
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.