Nature groups have warned that badgers, birds of prey and marine mammals have been victims of increased wildlife crime during the pandemic.
A report by 16 conservation and animal welfare groups warned that while wildlife crimes for many species rose in 2020, punishments for major types of crimes fell by more than half.
They are calling for better recording and monitoring of wildlife crimes, better targeting of resources and greater use of specialist police and prosecutors to tackle crimes against the precious British species from crime to bluebells.
Data collected by the groups shows that there has been a 36% increase in reports of possible crimes against badgers in 2020 compared to 2019.
Number of confirmed cases against birds of prey England And Wales nearly doubled from 54 in 2019 to 104 in 2020.
In Cornwall alone there was a 90% increase in reported marine mammal incidents – which could include disturbing dolphins, porpoises or seals.
The amount of reported incidents in fisheries – which can range from unlicensed fishing to illegal fishing and the export of young eels to Asia – has increased significantly.
The report said fishing offenses dropped by nearly two-thirds, illegal wildlife trade convictions reduced to just four, and poaching charges fell by more than half.
It also warned about gaps in wildlife crime figures, which make it difficult to uncover the scale of incidents ranging from the killing of snakes to illegally harvesting snowdrop bulbs for sale and the fungus for restaurant supplies.
Martin Sims, Director of Investigation at League Against Cruel Sports and President of the Nature Coalition wildlife And Countryside Link’s wildlife crime group said: “Wildlife crime is something that should concern everyone – it causes pain, harm and harm to much-loved wildlife and fuels widespread criminality against people and property. .
“Despite this the police still do not collect centralized data on these serious crimes, leaving an incomplete picture with donations, which may be just a drop in the ocean of wildlife crimes.
“it’s high time Government To take steps to take wildlife crime seriously which it deserves.
Mark Thomas The RSPB’s Head of Investigation UK said: “In the wake of an emergency climate conference and an uncertain future facing all life on Earth, there has never been a more important time to call for urgent action to end the illegal killing of wildlife.
“The decline in wildlife is already being felt, and species may risk facing the added pressure of being ruthlessly shot, trapped, or poisoned; nor will the public have to endure these crimes that occur in wild places.” where they go for refuge.”
Groups supporting the report include: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Badger Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglyph, Four Paws, Humane Society International UK, IFAW, Institute of Fisheries Management, League Against Cruel Sports, National Trust Naturewatch Foundation, PlantLife, RSPB, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Wild Justice and WWF UK.