Police officers are clamping down on perpetrators following a recent surge in wildlife crime throughout south and West Wales.

A recent survey carried out by the Wildlife and Countryside Links crime working group shows an alarming increase in crimes that are being committed against wild animals and birds.

Their latest figures show that crime against birds of prey has doubled from 52 cases in 2019 to 104 in 2020.

This, according to the RSPB, represents the highest increase since records began in 1990. The most common victims are buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks.

Suspected crimes against badgers also rose by 36 per cent with 614 reports made in 2020. Chief culprits appear to be builders who bulldoze badger setts during construction work.

Meanwhile illegal fishing activities have risen by a third.

“Sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg,” commented Martin Sims, chairman of the Wildlife and Countryside Links.

“Wildlife crime is something that should concern everyone as it inflicts pain, harm and loss for our much-loved wildlife and fuels wider criminality against people and property.

"It’s high time the government stepped in and treated wildlife crime with the seriousness it deserves.”

And it’s not only animals and birds which are being targeted. Plants and fungi are being stolen by criminals and then sold on illegally, and these include mushrooms and bluebells.

Earlier this week members of the Dyfed Powys Police rural and wildlife crime team visited The National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of their ongoing commitment to tackling the wildlife crime issues which are currently affecting South Wales.

During their visit they addressed ways in which the problem needs to be addressed by officers.

“This type of training ensures we’re aware of the dangers that different types of wildlife face,” commented one of the team members

 “Wildlife crime can be painful and can cause much suffering to animals but it also contributes to some species being pushed closer to extinction.

"In some cases it can even be linked to other serious crimes such as firearms offences and organised crime.”