Wildlife Crime: Update from Minister Noonan


I’d like to respond to some inaccurate statements made recently in the media on the issue of wildlife crime. My prioritisation of wildlife crime and my commitment to properly resourcing it remain as strong as ever; if anything they have gotten stronger.


My prioritisation of wildlife crime and my commitment to properly resourcing it remain as strong as ever; if anything they have gotten stronger.

NPWS’s organisational structure is changing following the Review, and this includes the names of divisions and sections. For instance, ‘Science and Biodiversity Unit’ is becoming the ‘Scientific Advice and Research Directorate’, one of five Directorates in total, while the ‘Wildlife Crime Unit’ has become ‘Wildlife Crime Operations’ within a larger Directorate.


As before, Wildlife Crime Operations involves central coordination and regional implementation, the latter through the 84 Conservation Rangers, who enforce the Wildlife Act and Birds and Habitats Regulations, gather books of evidence and bring prosecutions all across the country. Their number will soon be increased further to 120, a doubling of the number of Rangers since I took office 2020, and their work is further underpinned by the District Conservation Officers, specialist ecologists and Regional and Divisional management structures within NPWS.


Staffing resources for central coordination are also being increased at the moment, as per the recommendations in the €55m-funded Strategic Action Plan for the Renewal of the NPWS. Its primary functions include providing advice, guidance, data management and training, engaging with An Garda Síochána, and coordinating more broadly across the entire organisation.


This approach and the increased resourcing are already reaping dividends, with 21 prosecutions successfully closed in 2021, 17 more successfully closed to date in 2022, and 47 currently being progressed.


This approach and the increased resourcing are already reaping dividends, with 21 prosecutions successfully closed in 2021, 17 more successfully closed to date in 2022, and 47 currently being progressed.

Furthermore, I’d like to point out that it is grossly irresponsible for any public representative to misrepresent the numbers of civil servants engaged in law enforcement for political gain. Aside from betraying a lack of understanding of how NPWS operates and the organisational dynamics that go into managing wildlife crime investigations, such comments may inadvertently encourage bad actors to take illegal actions under the false belief that they won’t get caught.


The truth is that NPWS has never been more focussed – or indeed more effective – on wildlife crime. I’d like to remind everyone that NPWS has more rangers than ever, that we’re bringing more prosecutions than ever, and that recent judgements have included substantial fines in the thousands of euro and driving bans.”