Bird of prey crime maps show incidents on the rise

Last years bird of prey crimes included six poisonings. Picture: Ian McCarthy.

Last years bird of prey crimes included six poisonings. Picture: Ian McCarthy.

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  • Shootings, poisoning and trapping are among techniques used to kill raptors
  • Birds involved include buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons and goshawks
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The annual Scottish bird of prey crime maps, released today reveal 20 crimes were recorded last year, including six poisonings.

Wildlife crime is not acceptable in a modern Scotland and this is why we are doing all we can to end the illegal killing of birds of prey

DR AILEEN MCLEOD, MSP, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

The maps by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime(PAW) Scotland show a slight increase from the 18 recorded crimes in 2014.

The birds involved include buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons, goshawks, osprey and a hen harrier.

Poisoning was the most common crime, but there were also five shootings, five disturbances, three trapping or attempted trappings and one chick theft.

Dr Aileen McLeod, minister for environment, climate change and land reform, said it was disappointing not to see a decrease in incidents.

“Wildlife crime is not acceptable in a modern Scotland and this is why we are doing all we can to end the illegal killing of birds of prey and working in partnership with stakeholders to achieve that.

“Scotland already has the strongest wildlife legislation in the UK and last month I accepted proposals from the wildlife crime penalties review group to introduce tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife. This sends out a clear message to those who commit crimes against birds of prey – that this will not be tolerated.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, said: “While we welcome recent initiatives led by the Scottish Government to bear down on the criminals targeting birds of prey, it is clear there are still a significant number of people prepared to ignore the laws protecting these species.

“These latest figures make it readily apparent claims of a decline in the illegal killing of raptors are wholly without foundation.

“A growing weight of peer-reviewed scientific research gives clear evidence that the persecution of golden eagles, peregrines and hen harriers is widespread in many upland areas of eastern and southern Scotland.

“It is long overdue that the criminal targeting of protected raptors was consigned to history.”

Tim Baynes, director, Scottish Moorland Group of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “We reiterate our condemnation of any raptor crime, whatever the reason, and will continue to work with other PAW Scotland partners to try to ensure it will become a thing of the past.

“We were encouraged that in 2015 there were at least two known instances of gamekeepers on our member estates taking injured red kites to vets.”

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