Wildlife Crime Project section winners

TWO LOCAL pupils are among the winners in the second section of this year’s Tayside Police Wildlife Crime Project, the compilation of a short story on the subject ‘A Day in the Life of a Police Wildlife Crime Officer’.

Jordan Doherty, a primary six pupil at Letham School, took first place in the Angus category, and Gina Zuberbuhler-McClung, a primary four/five pupil at Eastern Primary School, Broughty Ferry, was placed second in the Dundee section.

The organisers said they were delighted to report that the creative writing skills of the hundreds of young participants is as high as ever.

Following a mammoth marking task, Tayside Police wildlife crime officer Alan Stewart said the short stories written by pupils from primary schools across the region were both diverse and knowledgeable.

Previously the pupils had created an autumn nature diary before being set the task of imagining they were a police wildlife crime officer and writing their own investigation.

With an hour-long wildlife crime DVD produced by Tayside Police for PAW Scotland fresh in their minds, the junior sleuths scribed enquiries of their own.

Mr Stewart said: “These mini-investigations ranged from deer and salmon poaching, to poisoning and shooting birds of prey, finch trapping, harassing dolphins with jet-skis, and collecting the eggs of rare birds.

“The pupils regularly demonstrated their knowledge of crime investigation, utilising fingerprint and DNA evidence.

“It is a delight to read these stories and see how much the youngsters have learned about the police role in combating wildlife crime. The detail in some of the stories highlights just how interested in the project the pupils are.”

Constable Alan Bell, a divisional wildlife crime officer, judged the top stories and said: “This is the first time I have read the top 30 or so stories and I was amazed at how good they were. There was so little to choose between them and I had a difficult task picking the eventual winners.”

The entries for third stage of the project, a drawing in colour of an animal, bird, plant, or insect found in the wild in Scotland, are beginning to arrive for marking. The project concludes with a wildlife law quiz, for which adult help at home is encouraged.

A prize-giving ceremony for the project takes place at on Thursday, May 5, at Battleby, Perth, courtesy of Scottish Natural Heritage.

Winning stories can be viewed on the wildlife crime page of the Tayside Police website at www.tayside.police.uk/wildlife