The Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs creates a new unit to combat wildlife crimes

The fight against wildlife crime in Bulgaria received a significant boost after institutions and NGOs united to create a specialized Wildlife Crimes unit in the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Last year, a WWF report analyzed the scale of these crimes in the country, and highlighted the need for such a structure.

The new unit, part of the Economic Police department of the General Directorate of the National Bulgarian Police, will be responsible for coordinating research, information, and prevention efforts aimed at curbing wildlife crimes outlined in the Penal Code. The unit is expected to help safeguard habitats and species, as well as reduce pollution of soil, air, and water, and monitor waste and toxic substances management.

This unit is the result of the collaborative work of an interdepartmental group that includes representatives of several environmental organizations such as WWF, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Green Balkans. Established in 2022 by the Minister of Internal Affairs, it soon proposed a working mechanism for interaction between the competent institutions – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The group is currently working to create a common protocol for action in the event of a wildlife crime, as well as to establish a coordinating council to provide support at an institutional and operational level on issues related to wildlife crimes. Another important priority of the working group is to improve the information exchange between the national institutions.