Brian May expressed his delight after a police unit dedicated to protecting wildlife was saved.
The Queen star vented his fury last month (Feb16), over the potential closure of Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit due to government budget cuts. The unit tackles crimes such as badger baiting and the persecution of birds of prey.
Brian joined fellow animal rights activists to thank U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron after it was announced on Tuesday (01Mar16) the animal detectives’ future had been secured.
“We applaud David Cameron for enabling the UK to lead the way in preventing crimes against wild animals,” the Bohemian Rhapsody musician told Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
In a statement to the U.K. parliament, Environment Minister Rory Stewart said the wildlife crime unit would receive $190,490 (£136,000) a year until 2020.
Speaking before the decision to continue the animal protection squad’s funding was announced, the guitarist and amateur astronomer praised its officers, saying, “Britain is becoming a key destination in the international illegal wildlife trade… The work that the NWCU does combating these crimes is vital. It also tackles important domestic issues such as persecution of birds of prey.”
VICTORY FOR ANIMAL WELFARE CAMPAIGNERS AFTER NATIONAL WILDLIFE CRIME UNIT IS SAVED
1 March 2016
A crack squad of wildlife detectives has been saved after the Mirror warned it was threatened with the axe. Campaigners feared the National Wildlife Crime Unit would be scrapped because the Government was failing to guarantee its funding beyond March. But Environment Minister Rory Stewart today caved into pressure and announced new cash for the unit.
Its boss, Chief Inspector Martin Sims, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve got the funding because it allows the unit to continue tackling wildlife crime and shows the Government’s commitment to doing something about it.”
Mr Stewart revealed the cash in a written Commons statement, saying: “In recognition of the important contribution the unit makes to tackling wildlife crime, both at home and abroad, I can confirm that Defra and Home Office Ministers have agreed that their respective departments will each provide the Unit with funding of £136,000 a year for the next four financial years.
“This will give the unit significant financial stability and enable their vital work to continue until at least 2020.”
The money is promised is the same as the existing cash for what its boss, Chief Inspector Martin Sims, told the Mirror was a “relatively small and inexpensive” team. The 12-strong NWCU supports the UK’s police forces in tackling crimes such as badger baiting, poaching and the theft of rare birds’ eggs.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who spearheaded calls to save the unit, said today: “The Government have finally relented and seen sense. The work that the NWCU does combating these crimes is vital. It also tackles important domestic issues such a persecution of birds of prey. With the specialised expertise it has build up over a decade, I believed that it is essential we maintain this unit in its entirety. I am delighted that we have been able to secure this funding today but it should not have had to come to this. The government have promised to protect the police but this whole saga shows that their words and their deeds do not match up. They have to be pushed into funding the unit. It’s very much a world-leading police unit of its kind.”
David Cameron had promised to step up Britain’s fight against wildlife crime amid public anger at last year’s killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter.
And campaigners, including Queen guitarist Brian May, said animals would be at greater risk of harm if the unit was abolished.
Rex Brian May Brian May led calls to save the crack squad Humane Society International executive director Claire Bass said: “The National Wildlife Crime Unit does an exceptionally important job protecting our precious wildlife from criminal exploitation, so we are hugely relieved that at last the government has announced secure funding for the next four years. “Wildlife crimes such as hare coursing, badger baiting and persecution of birds of prey, cause immense suffering and threaten some of our most treasured wild species. Given the Government’s highly vocal commitment to protecting endangered wildlife internationally, it would have been absurd to withdraw funding from the NWCU, creating an open season for wildlife crime in our own backyard.