Monthly Archives: January 2013

Wildlife crime unit faces extinction over cutbacks

There is growing concern that funding problems may result in Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) being axed.

The NWCU is a national police unit that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides investigative support to police services. Defra has agreed its own share of the funding, but the Home Office has yet to sign off the £136,000 required to ensure the unit’s survival. There are fears it may fall foul of the 20 per cent cuts in police budgets being implemented by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

More than 100 MPs have already signed an early day motion calling on the Government to secure the future of the NWCU, which combats everything from rhino-horn theft and illegal trade in reptiles to persecution of birds of prey. The unit, whose funding runs out on 31 March, has been busier than ever in the last few months. Wildlife crime of all types is rapidly growing across the world, with elephant and rhino poaching hitting new highs last year.

The Badger Trust said it is very concerned and has called on its supporters to both sign a petition and write to their MP, asking for their support. The RSPB is also backing the unit. Spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “With the future of some birds of prey hanging in the balance, it’s imperative that the NWCU  itself has a secure future.”

Bees

Big Garden Birdwatch 2013

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The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is back on  26-27 January, giving people all over the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey.

To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time.  They then have three weeks to submit their results, either through the RSPB website or by post.

Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.

Sarah Houghton, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Manager, said: ‘Everyone who takes part  is contributing to the world’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us learn more about some of our most familiar garden birds.

‘The declines of birds like starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.”

Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. None more so than the woodpigeon, which has increased by a massive 800% since 1979. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have also risen.

Once you have registered with the RSPB website they will send you  a free pack of hints and tips, some reminder emails, plus a £5 discount to use in the RSPB online shop. There’s also a counting sheet to download, which will help you to keep track of all the birds you spot.

Get Shell out of the Alaskan Wilderness

Sustainability Hub

About This Video: Shell’s $4.5 billion plan to convert the environmentally fragile Gulf of Alaska in to a major new oil frontier suffered a blow Monday night when one of its drill ships ran aground near Kodiak Island.

Stormy weather broke the Kulluk drill ship away from its tow ropes and within hours it had run aground. The Coast Guard safely evacuated 18 crew members from the ship and is now watching for any spills. The Kulluk has about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board according to Coast Guard Commander Shane Montoya.

In the video, a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew flies over the mobile drilling unit Kulluk aground on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. The on scene weather conditions were 40 mph winds with 20-foot seas. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 1st Class…

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