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The Telegraph's legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors looks at the serious problem of wildlife crime which is a local as well as national issue. Wildlife crime includes everything from unwittingly destroying a bird's nest when cutting your hedge, to badger baiting and even deer poaching which is now more common in urban areas like Greenock than in the hills and glens.

Wildlife crime appears in many guises, but can be loosely categorised into three main types: the illegal trade in endangered species; crimes involving species which are endangered and cruelty to wildlife.

Some legislation protects particular species such as The Protection of Badgers Act which outlaws badger baiting, and the Deer Act which makes deer poaching illegal.

Local cases of trade in endangered species often involve people unwittingly buying parrots and tortoises which come into this category.

Wildlife Crime is tackled by 'The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime' (PAW) which brings together the Police, HM Revenue and Customs, and representatives of Government Departments and voluntary bodies, with an interest in wildlife law enforcement.

Its main objective is to support the networks of Police Wildlife Crime Officers (PWCO) and HM Revenue and Customs Officers. Strathclyde police has its own Wildlife Crime Unit based at force HQ in Glasgow where you can report any incidents that cause you concern.

Convictions for wildlife crime continue to rise. Just last year a man from Dalry was found guilty of the barbaric sport of badger baiting and given community service.

Separately, in 2002 a Norfolk man was found guilty of 22 offences relating to the smuggling and illegal trade in endangered species. He was sentenced to six and a half years in prison. This is the most significant wildlife case ever brought before the courts in the UK.

We are all victims of wildlife crime in that it threatens to diminish the rich natural heritage for which Scotland is rightly world-famous and which is of great importance to our economy.

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