Sunday, 4 August 2013

Scotland's gamekeepers to help combat mussel poaching

Gamekeepers have offered their help in preventing the poaching of Scottish freshwater pearl mussels.

The mussels are are an endangered species and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Two years ago, they joined giant pandas and Javan rhinos on a list of 365 of the world's most endangered species.

The Scottish Gamekeepers' Association (SGA) has signed an agreement with the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) to help fight poaching.

Poachers target the mussels, often in rivers in remote areas, in the hope of harvesting white pearls.

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said gamekeepers and ghillies will be encouraged to alert police to suspicious activity.

Charlie Everitt, investigative support officer of NWCU, said it was an important agreement.

He said: "Pearl fishing can happen in some of the remotest parts of Scotland and the only way the police may ever hear about it is if members of the public working in those locations inform them.

"This is why we are appealing to ghillies and gamekeepers who work on the land around rivers containing freshwater pearl mussels to please contact the National Wildlife Crime Unit if they see any suspicious activity - however small or insignificant - that may be related to illegal pearl fishing."

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