Statistics from the National Wildlife Crime Unit show that deer and fish poaching, and hare coursing have all increased dramatically over the last 12 months. Reported incidents of hare coursing increased 120 % poaching was up 47 % and fish poaching up 75 %.
Figures relate to poaching (fish and deer) and hare coursing incidents reported to the National Wildlife Crime Unit during 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009 for Scotland. This data simply shows reported incidents.
Lothian & Borders, Fife and Northern Constabularies have not supplied incident numbers for the last few months; therefore it can be surmised that actual reported incidents of this nature will be much higher at end 2009 than these figures show.
Fergus Ewing, Minister for Community Safety, said: "I am concerned at the large rise in poaching and coursing in Scotland over the past year. These crimes involve serious, organised criminals and have a significant economic impact on rural communities across Scotland.
"The Scottish Government is committed to helping reduce these crimes by working in partnership with people with the specialist knowledge, resources and skills to tackle them."
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive, SRPBA, who is Priority Lead on the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime's Policing Poaching and Hare Coursing Group, said: "We could possibly expect to see this increase in incidents of deer poaching because of financial conditions, and also more reporting of incidents because of heightened levels of awareness already from those working in the countryside or enjoying it for recreation, but what we are stressing today is that there has been an unprecedented hike in illegal activity and we need more action now. These are crimes being committed in our countryside, the illegal taking or killing of wildlife, and we all can help to provide intelligence, to report suspicious activity, and to give the Police the information they need to catch and prosecute the perpetrators who increasingly are members of organised gangs often involved in other criminal activity."
Members of the public who suspect poaching activity are urged to contact their local Police station or to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Charts.