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Police launch Operation Wilderness to protect nesting birds
1:10pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
With spring heralds the start of the wild birds breeding season and police are appealing to the public to be the ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground and inform them of any suspicious people they may see at nesting sites.
Operation Wilderness, launched in 2012, is designed to combat persecution of birds.
In the past the region’s birds have been targeted by egg collectors and others intent on breaking the law when near to the nests of some species.
In 2011 Devon made national headlines when a record number of birds of prey were found poisoned in the area, among these were very rare and specially protected species.
Operation Wilderness utilises covert camera technology installed at locations within the region near to the nests. Their purpose is to capture images of any people going to near to the nest sites. This enables the police to gain vital evidence needed for prosecutions.
Cameras will again be deployed around the region at sensitive nest sites in an attempt to deter and detect these offences, for which sentences can attract a 6 month prison sentence or a fine of up to £5,000.
The breeding season for some of Devon’s rarest breeding birds begins during late March and continues into the summer, for some species this finishes in August.
PC Josh Marshall, wildlife crime officer in Devon, said: “2012 was a great year for these rare species in the region and Devon and Cornwall Police would like to repeat the success this year.
“Sadly, in some cased illegal activity has led to the disappearance of some species from the region but with the public’s help we want to minimise the risk of that happening again.”