Scottish Raptor Study Group

Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey

News for December 2014

Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme 2013 annual report now available
28th December 2014
The 2013 Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme annual report is now available for download on our website. 

Environment Minister provides clarity on Ross-shire Massacre
26th December 2014
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has issued a statement on the ilegal killing of 22 raptors in Ross-shire earlier this year. She emphasises that the poisoning of those birds was indeed a criminal act, despite Police Scotland's claims that the birds were probably not deliberately targeted but died as a result of being accidental victims of pest control measures. Details here.

Police investigate shooting of tawny owl in East Lothian
24th December 2014
A police investigation has been launched after a tawny owl was shot dead in East Lothian. The bird was found on the B6355 road, south of Gifford. It is believed to have been shot on the evening of 18th December. Details here.

Landmark conviction in first vicarious liability prosecution for raptor persecution
23rd December 2014
The first ever conviction under the three-year-old vicarious liability legislation has been achieved today at Stranraer Sheriff Court. Ninian Robert Hathorn Johnston Stewart, the landowner of the Physgill and Glasserton Estates, pled guilty to being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who was convicted of poisoning a buzzard and possessing three banned pesticides in 2013. The landowner was fined £675. Whilst the penalty is derisory, the Scottish Raptor Study Group welcomes this landmark conviction and congratulates the Crown Office and everyone else involved in bringing this case to court. Further details here.

Misleading article mispresents sea eagle diet
19th December 2014
A poorly-researched article in the Daily Telegraph wrongly infers that white-tailed eagles in Scotland eat more lamb than fish. The article has been ably demolished by raptor experts here and here.

Sporting estates criticised for failing wildlife in the Cairngorms
14th December 2014
Landowners have come under fire from the Cairngorms National Park Authority for illegally killing birds of prey, culling too many mountain hares and bulldozing too many hill tracks. Full story here.

Balmoral's nature award dismissed as a PR stunt
14th December 2014
The Queen's estate at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire has won a nature award from landowners despite the fact that its natural woodland, heaths and bogs have been officially condemned as being in a poor state. Environment and land rights campaigners have slammed the award as a "meaningless public relations stunt" Full story here.

Scottish gamekeeper George Mutch found guilty of appalling raptor persecution crimes on Aberdeenshire sporting estate
11th December 2014
A Scottish gamekeeper has been convicted on four charges of wildlife crime, including the killing of a goshawk which had been trapped and then clubbed to death. George Mutch, a gamekeeper on the Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire, committed his crimes in August and September 2012. He was filmed by cameras deployed by RSPB Scotland as part of a research project into the use of crow cage traps. Mutch had denied the charges, which led to a long-running prosecution case which finally concluded today with his conviction. He will be sentenced in January. He has apparently been expelled from the Scottish Gamekeepers' Association. More details of this case and a link to the video footage here.

New venue for 2015 Scottish Birdfair
7th December 2014
The 2015 Scottish Birdfair, organised by RSPB Scotland, will be held at a new location: Levenhall Links, Musselburgh on 23-24 May 2015. For the last three years, the event was held at the controversial Hopetoun House, which has links with the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire - an estate with an appalling track record for raptor conservation. The Scottish Raptor Study Group welcomes the move to Levenhall Links.

Rural Affairs Committee writes to Environment Minister about continuing concerns over wildlife crime
5th December 2014
The Scottish Parliament's cross party Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee recently heard evidence on the Government's annual Wildlife Crime Report and the Committee has written to the Environment Minister about their on-going concerns. Particular concerns include the issue of under-reporting, detection and prosecution. The Committee's letter can be read here.

Job Opportunity (re-advertised with new closing date): Golden Eagle Project Officer, Highlands
1st December 2014
An amazing job opportunity for an experienced raptor fieldworker, to monitor golden eagles in the Great Glen. This is a three-year position with an exceptionally good salary (£35K per annum). This is a new advert and the new closing deadline is Friday 19th December 2014. Full details here.


2014: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November
2013: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December,
2012: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.