Illegal hunting and waste disposal are the two most common environmental infringements in the Balearics according to SEPRONA, the Guardia Civil's Natural protection Service. Last year the Balearic unit dealt with a total of 1'850 infrigements, one of which led to an arrest. The high number of incidents means a heavy work load for the 25-strong unit which includes seven four-by-four vehicles, four photographers, an analysis team and other investigative equipment. At a national level, the environmental protection squad filed 154'549 cases last year, an increase of 40 per cent in comparison to 1998. Manuel Silos Pavon, head of the national unit, explained yesterday that the sharp increase in cases last year does not correspond to a rise in environmental crimes, but to a rise in the number of incidents being detected by the eco-police. The unit has been provided with better and state-of-the-art equipment, which has been partly funded by European Union financing and money from the autonomous governments in the ten regions in which they operate. With regards to illegal waste dumping, in the Balearics, professionals such as mechanics, photographers, painters and other tradespeople who work with toxic marterials are kept under constant surveillance in order to ensure that they are disposing of their industrial waste in accordance with the law.

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