New sanctions needed for wildlife crime


As the Scottish annual wildlife crime report is released, RSPB Scotland has issued a statement demanding stronger action to prevent illegal raptor killing.

“We welcome the publication of the Wildlife Crime in Scotland Report for 2016 and the continued scrutiny by the Scottish government of this issue,” commented Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland. “Sadly, wildlife crime, including the illegal killing of our native birds of prey, remains a blight on the international reputation of Scotland, and in our view stronger sanctions are urgently required to act as a deterrent.”

A satellite-tagged Golden Eagle found poisoned on a grouse moor near Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, recently (RSPB Scotland).

Orr-Ewing continued: “At the end of May 2017, an official report into the fate of satellite-tagged Golden Eagles showed that many of these birds were disappearing in suspicious circumstances, primarily on land managed for driven grouse shooting. As a result, an independent enquiry has been launched by the Scottish government into how grouse moors can be managed sustainably and within the law, including consideration of options for a licensing system. 

A satellite-tagged Golden Eagle found dead with two broken legs in Aberdeenshire in 2012. The satellite data helped prove it had been trapped on an Angus grouse moor and then moved overnight to where it was found (RSPB Scotland).

“We believe that an effective licensing system for driven grouse shooting, including sanctions to remove licences to operate where illegal activity is confirmed, could help tackle persistent criminality and promote the required culture change in this sector. It would also provide safeguards for those land managers who operate responsibly. We look forward to giving evidence to this independent enquiry in due course.

“The disappearing satellite-tagged Golden Eagles, along with other similar occurrences with Hen Harriers, give a strong indication that the wildlife criminals have not stopped their activities and instead may have changed their methods in order to avoid detection.”        

The full report can be read here