Baits and traps

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IT WAS very honest of Tim Baynes of the Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group (Letters, 29 March) to suggest the ­expansion of the buzzard population is due to removal of “ …the need to use poison baits” to kill corvids.

Was this finally an admission that the poisoning of raptors has been due to the use of poisons by sporting estate owners and their land managers?

However, Mr Baynes then goes on to suggest that corvids are being persecuted to protect wading birds. This claim is perhaps inspired by the camouflage of the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds and is actually a clever device to hide the real reason many landowners trap and kill huge numbers of crows, rooks and magpies.

Native species of wild birds are being persecuted to artificially increase the number of birds sporting guns like to shoot. That includes non-native pheasant, which are farmed in large numbers to be released into the wild to be killed. If anyone else started doing this with a non-native species they would be arrested.

The time for a total rethink on the use of corvid traps is long overdue. Instead of just discussing how corvid traps are used with those who use them, the Scottish Government must open the debate to include the many organisations which oppose the principle of trapping and killing native species in a bid to increase the numbers of birds to be killed for sport.

It is time to accept that the “need” to trap and kill corvids is just as unacceptable as “the need” to use poison baits.

John F Robins

Animal Concern

Dumbarton

There’s no fooling this 1 April. From Monday all snares set in Scotland must carry a tag giving a unique identification number that identifies the operator to the police.

Therefore, those of us who deal with countryside management issues, urge all of you (farmers, crofters, gamekeepers, foresters, conservationists and land managers) who legally control foxes and rabbits to ensure you are “up to speed” with this new legislation.

What does this mean? Firstly snare operators must hold an official up-to-date training certificate. Over the past two years our organisations have combined our knowledge and resources to try to reach snare operators throughout Scotland and train them accordingly. Secondly, you must register this certificate with the police before you snare. If you haven’t done both of these things, from 1 April you cannot legally snare.

We have fought long and hard to retain best practice snaring as an effective and humane means of keeping Scotland’s cherished wildlife in balance and livestock protected. It is time for vigilance and scrupulous management as custodians of the countryside to ensure this vital tool is retained.

Dr Adam Smith Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Alex Hogg Scottish Gamekeepers Association

Dr Colin Shedden

British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Ian Clark Scottish Assoc for Country Sports

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