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New newsletter and a new year! I hope everyone had a fantastic and enjoyable Christmas with friends and family. This month has been a very strange month as I have unfortunately had to spend a period of time working from home thanks to Covid. However, before that I was lucky enough to attend the National Wildlife Enforcers Conference with PC Alex Lovelock. The annual conference is where law enforcers, statutory agencies and non-Government organisations come together to discuss successes along with new developments, challenges and learning points in combatting wildlife crime across the UK. Unfortunately, this month we have had a couple of wildlife crimes reported to us which I will cover a bit further down.
Hare Coursing – **BREAKING NEWS**
So literally at the point of typing this today the Government have made an announcement around changes to the law and how enforcement is carried out around this criminality. I will cover this in more detail next month now however if you wish to read the Governments press release it is available here:
New legislation to crack down on cruel illegal hare coursing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Locally:
We continue to be below last year’s figures and well below average over the last few years. There has been the usual rise in reports which we would expect between December and January. With this we have increased our patrols in recent weeks in the known hot spots for this illegal activity.
PC Sue Matthews arrested one male just before Christmas in relation to a number of reports of Hare Coursing and damage to fields in the South Norfolk area. The male has been released under investigation whilst enquiries continue.
We have also issued four Community Protection Warnings in December in relation to anti-social behaviour linked to Hare Coursing. Two more will be issued in the coming weeks when we catch up with the relevant people. One dog was also seized for Hare Coursing and has already been safely rehomed.
I continue to request people continue to report such behaviour to us immediately on 999 where appropriate.
Wildlife Crimes in Norfolk
We have currently got three wildlife incidents under investigation. The first was a dead buzzard which was found in slightly suspicious circumstances and has been sent for further tests to establish if a criminal offence has taken place or not.
We are also looking into a report of works done to a building which contained roosting bats, this remains at a very early stage. It is really important to remember if you plan to do any work to your house or even outbuildings if at any stage you have had bats roosting it could be an offence to carry out any work in that area or block any access, professional advice should be sort.
Finally, it is the rather high profile incident which was reported in the middle of December whereby a large badger sett had been interfered with in the Little Ryburgh area near Fakenham. This involved over 50 entrances which were blocked, some of which were clearly very active. We attended with Norfolk Badger Trust and our CSI team to gather evidence and make sure there were no animal welfare issues. Thankfully due to the timely reporting of this incident we do not believe there were any wildlife casualties whilst we cannot be completely sure.
Bird Flu
Bird Flu continues to be a real threat to our wild birds and poultry industry DEFRA are reporting record number of confirmed incidents this winter. It remains vital that if you own any poultry you keep them indoors and covered to prevent them coming into contact with wild birds who are the carriers of the disease.
Just a reminder – the risk to humans remains very low however you should not touch or move any dead wild birds.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese, or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information see our advice to the public.
Avian influenza (bird flu) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Get New Tools for Christmas?
We continue to see reports of tools and small building equipment being stolen from outbuildings, vehicles, and other locations.
If you were lucky enough for Santa to bring you new tools or equipment for Christmas please consider the following basic advice to help protect your new presents (or old presents!).
· Always remove tools from sight
· Never leave in vehicles overnight
· Always lock outbuildings and sheds
· Mark your property with your surname and postcode with
   permanent marker or engraver
· Have a record of serial numbers should the worse happen
· Have photographs of the equipment
· Consider installation of alarms or CCTV systems
· Should the worst happen make sure your insurance cover is cover
What is happening in the countryside in January?
Farming in January often takes a slower pace on arable farms, drier days will allow some further groundwork to prepare soils for spring crops. One crop that does continue to be harvested in the eastern region is sugar beet which is a really important crop in the crop cycle on arable farms. It is a non-cereal crop which helps break down disease risks that can build up in soils, it also allows the soil to receive different sorts of manure and fertilisers replenishing vital nutrients which are often lost during the normal three years of cereal crops.
Livestock farms never get much of a rest, lambing will be starting in many of our pedigree showing flocks and others rearing lambs for the early spring lamb market. Other farms will be busy feeding the now heavily pregnant ewes ahead of lambs in March and April.
Most lambs in the east are generally lambed indoors or under closer supervision than is seen on the moors in the north, this is largely down to the breeds used to produce lamb which generally need a bit more assistance and care, whereas the ewes up north generally produce lamb for future breeding stock, tend to be hardier and lamb easier.
Most cattle farms will have the cattle indoors to protect the grass from being destroyed in wet conditions so there will be the constant need to feed and keep their bedding clean which takes up a large portion of time. January can be seen as somewhat of a dull month as far as wildlife goes, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Obviously, the seals along our coastline put on a huge spectacle these days with huge numbers of pups being born. Another place always worth a visit this time of year is some of our waterways and RSPB reserves with many of them filled with many migratory waterfowl, they can put a real show on at certain times of days. We should also start to see the snowdrops appearing towards the end of the month which really is the first sign of spring is around the corner, I am sure we will also see plenty of hard frosts to remind us that it is still winter though!
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