Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey
Cabinet Secretary announces new package of measures to tackle ongoing raptor persecution
31 May 2017
Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced a new package of measures to tackle the ongoing problem of illegal raptor persecution, following the publication of a Government-commissioned review in to the disappearance of satellite-tagged golden eagles. The review, which showed that almost a third of all tagged golden eagles had vanished in suspicious circumstances, has produced compelling evidence of deliberate and sustained raptor persecution in various grouse moor hotspots over a number of years.
In response Ms Cunningham outlined a package of new measures designed to protect birds of prey, the wider Scottish environment and the reputation of those who abide by the law. The Scottish Government will:
• Set up an independently-led group to look at the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices such as muirburn, the use of medicated grit and mountain hare culls, and to recommend options for regulation including licensing and other measures which could be put in place without new primary legislation;
• Immediately review all available legal measures which could be used to target geographical areas of concern;
• Increase resources for the detection and investigation of wildlife crime and work with Police Scotland to pilot the use of special constables in the Cairngorms National Park;
• Rule out giving the Scottish SPCA more investigative powers, in light of legal advice;
• Examine how best to protect the valuable role of gamekeepers in rural Scotland;
• Commission research into the costs and benefits of large shooting estates to Scotland’s economy and biodiversity.
Full statement from the Scottish Government here
SNH revokes licence on Raeshaw Estate after suspected wildlife crime offences
26 May 2017
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estates as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime. Police Scotland is now investigating the potential offences on the Scottish Borders estate.
SNH imposed a general licence restriction on Raeshaw Estates in 2015 on the basis of clear evidence provided by Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on the estate.The estate challenged the restriction through a judicial review, but the restriction was upheld in March this year.
During a compliance check this month, SNH staff found multiple instances of breaches of conditions of an individual licence that had been granted to cover essential management activities on the estate.These breaches may also constitute offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so SNH has reported the details to Police Scotland.
SNH press statement in full here
Environment Committee votes to progress SRSG's petition for introduction of licensing for game bird shooting
24 May 2017
Holyrood's Environment Committee has voted to recommend a Government-led inquiry to explore the implementation of a licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting in Scotland. Conservationists have welcomed the move whereas the game-shooting industry has expressed disappointment. The SRSG is delighted and thanks the Environment Committee for its recognition of the on-going problems.
Alleged poisoning of 3 buzzards at Edradynate Estate, Perthshire: Crown Office rejects Police Scotland plea to prosecute
22 May 2017
The Crown Office has refused a plea from Police Scotland to bring charges against a gamekeeper from Edradynate Estate who is suspected of involvement in the poisoning of three buzzards in 2015. The reason for the Crown Office's decision has not been given. More details here.
Holyrood's Environment Committee writes to Crown Office seeking clarification on inadmissibility of video evidence
21 May 2017
Following a number of recent decisions by the Crown Office to drop proceedings in several cases of alleged willdife crime, the Scottish Parliament's Environment Committee has written to the COPFS to express concern and seek clarification on the inadmissibility of video evidence (see here).
Police appeal for witnesses after hen harrier shot at Leadhills, South Lanarkshire
16 May 2017
Police Scotland are appealing for witnesses after a hen harrier was reported shot near Leadhills. Police received a report at 5.15pm on 4 May 2017 that a man had shot and killed a hen harrier near to the B7040 Elvanfoot to Leadhills road. More details here and here.
RSPB Scotland releases video of alleged setting and re-setting of an illegal pole trap on Brewlands Estate
12 May 2017
Following the COPFS's recent decision to drop all proceedings against a gamekeeper who was alleged to have set and re-set an iielgal pole trap on the Brewlands Estate in 2015, RSPB Scotland has published the video evidence. The Crown Office has now stated that the video evidence is inadmissible. RSPB Scotland video and statement here.
RSPB Scotland releases video of alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate
5 May 2017
Following the COPFS's recent decision to drop all proceedings against gamekeeper Stanley Gordon who was alleged to have shot a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in 2013, RSPB Scotland has published the video evidence. The Crown Office has now stated that the video evidence is inadmissible. RSPB Scotland video and statement here. The Crown Office's decision has provoked widespread public anger and political concern.
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