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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Wildlife crime initiative hatched
Dead golden eagle
A golden eagles died from poisoning in the area recently
A new partnership aimed at combating wildlife crime in the north east of Scotland has been launched.

Grampian Police, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB aim to protect wildlife on land and at sea together.

One of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (Paw) priorities in the area will be stopping hare coursing.

Grampian Police said: "This is an ambitious approach to combating wildlife crime."

The scheme aims to encourage partners to work together to promote enforcement and education in relation to wildlife and environmental crime.

Grampian Police senior wildlife officer Superintendent Alan Smailes said: "Our intention is to develop a partnership to embrace national priorities, ensure they are relevant locally and that resources are directed towards these priorities.

'Barbaric' crime

"From a north east of Scotland perspective it includes poaching, hare coursing, habitat and species disturbance and persecution on land and at sea.

We anticipate a partnership approach to tackling this crime will bring more success
Superintendent Alan Smailes
Grampian Police

Supt Smailes said hare coursing was "cruel, barbaric and illegal".

He said: "It is still conducted, often in association with gambling, by a very small minority who are prepared to intimidate landowners and legitimate users of the countryside to carry out their activity.

"Grampian Police have had some success in targeting individuals engaged in hare coursing.

"We anticipate a partnership approach to tackling this crime will bring more success."

The news came the day after Aberdeenshire gamekeeper Hector McNeil, 56, admitted killing a raven by poisoning eggs on which they feed.

He has been a gamekeeper at the Glenbuchat Estate in Strathdon for 30 years.

McNeil also admitted keeping 118 common gull eggs and a banned pesticide. He will be sentenced next month.

And wildlife experts hit out earlier this month after the death by poisoning of a rare golden eagle in Royal Deeside was revealed.


SEE ALSO
Gamekeeper admits poisoning raven
29 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Poisoned golden eagle police plea
16 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Illegal hare coursing men hunted
25 Apr 06 |  North East/N Isles
New base for wildlife crime unit
13 Apr 06 |  Scotland

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