Wildlife crime in Scotland revealed

While raptor poisonings are down, crimes against birds of prey such as Golden Eagle are still a problem in Scotland. Photo by Bill Paton (www.rspb-images.com).
While raptor poisonings are down, crimes against birds of prey such as Golden Eagle are still a problem in Scotland. Photo by Bill Paton (www.rspb-images.com).

Raptor poisonings have dropped dramatically in the last three years, though other forms of persecutions remain high, according to a report published on 30 September.

Wildlife Crime in Scotland is the first annual report from Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAW). Figures published in the report show raptor poisoning incidents have fallen from 30 in 2009 to three in 2012. There were 10 further police-recorded raptor crimes in 2012 ranging from egg theft to trapping and shooting.

As well as crimes against raptors, the paper reports on the persecution of badgers, bats and freshwater pearl mussels, poaching and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) issues.

In addition to covering wildlife crimes in 2012, the report aims to:
• Detail wildlife crime priorities.
• Provide and explain crime incidence and prosecution data from a variety of reporting organisations in Scotland.
• Highlight activities of PAW Scotland groups.
• Provide and explain information on the conservation status of key species in Scotland which are affected by wildlife crime and are a UK crime priority group.
• Provide and explain research on Scotland’s wildlife which will positively reduce wildlife crime.
• Explain the future direction of Scotland’s wildlife crime policy.

RSPB Scotland issued a statement saying that it welcomed the report and calling for a parliamentary debate.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “We welcome the publication of this report and the continuing commitment of the minister and Scottish government to wildlife crime enforcement and prevention. We hope this report will stimulate a good discussion by our law makers, particularly around the level of policing and other agency resources that are required to effectively tackle these crimes in both urban areas and the countryside.

“Wildlife crime is still widely regarded as a blight on the reputation of Scotland. Three Golden Eagles were identified as victims of wildlife crime in 2012. Regrettably, these victims included a bird shot in the south of Scotland, where the species is already struggling to maintain a toehold.

“We hope that the reduction in reported illegal poisoning of birds of prey in 2012 will be maintained, and that we see a clear effect on the ground with birds of prey returning to our skies in areas where they are currently absent.”

Read and download the full report here.

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Written by: Birdwatch news team