POACHERS, fire-starters and animal poisoners are among the targets of the Quantocks’ new wildlife crime officer.

PC Rob Jacobs has just completed a Wildlife Crime Officers’ course in Hampshire and he’s now equipped to tackle crimes against animals.

PC Jacobs said: “There’s not a whole lot of wildlife crime reported in Sedgemoor but that’s because there’s not a lot of awareness of it.

“We are encouraging people to report things that they see.

“Among the crimes I cover are animal cruelty issues, people disturbing bat roosts and people setting traps for birds of prey.

“There’s also the issue of poison and pesticides where people poison inappropriately and this could have an unintended effect on natural habitats.”

Quantocks ranger Owen Jones said the new wildlife crime officer will be a “massive help” in catching those determined to damage wildlife on his patch.

He said: “We have not been able to prosecute in recent years because we haven’t had this sort of person on board so it’s a big bonus to have Rob on our doorstep.

“Hopefully more than anything else it will be a deterrent but if needs be then we will be able to prosecute.”

Both PC Jacob and Mr Jones urged people to contact them if they see any wildlife crime as they need the public on their side to catch criminals.

Mr Jones added: “From a ranger’s point of view we only have one set of eyes. The area I work is around 1,800 hectares and that’s just the northern part. There are only two rangers – me and Rebekah West.

“Wildlife crime can mean anything from poaching and shooting deer illegally to starting wildfires which destroys habitats.

“We have rare species on the Quantocks such as adder and deer.

“We have had birds of prey that have been poisoned and killed. If people find a dead bird of prey we would like to know.”

If you see anything you suspect may be wildlife crime, please contact police on 101 and ask for PC Rob Jacobs 2663.