Funding to fight wildlife crime in Northumberland

Roseate terns on Coquet Island.
Roseate terns on Coquet Island.

A community fund, set up by the police and crime commissioner, has awarded the RSPB a grant of £2,000 to help prevent wildlife crime at its reserve off the north Northumberland coast.

Situated a mile off Amble, Coquet Island is home to tens of thousands of breeding seabirds during spring and summer including the UK’s only colony of roseate terns. As a result, the island is designated as a wildlife sanctuary and landing on it is prohibited without consent.

The RSPB will use the grant from Vera Baird’s community fund to upgrade the island’s outdated CCTV system so wardening staff can monitor the island effectively for illegal activity such as egg theft and disturbance of roseate terns.

Although surrounded by sea, Coquet Island’s wildlife is at risk from wildlife criminals. In 2004, rare roseate tern eggs were stolen and in July 2012, two brothers from Amble caused reckless disturbance to breeding roseate terns when they landed on the island.

Paul Morrison, warden at RSPB Coquet Island, said: “This generous grant from the police and crime commissioner means that we will be able provide greater protection for the UK’s rarest seabird and make staff feel more safe and secure when working on the island. It is also a powerful endorsement of the RSPB’s view that wildlife crime is a serious issue that needs to be tackled head on with the right resources.”

Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner for Northumbria Police, said: “Tackling wildlife crime is an important priority and I am pleased that we have been able to support the excellent work of the RSPB to help protect some of the UK’s rarest seabirds on Coquet Island. Northumbria Police and I will continue to work closely with the RSPB to help protect rare birds and to stop the theft of birds eggs.”