Your article, “Wildlife crime against birds of prey hits five-year high” (21 October), reports on the publication of wildlife crime statistics by the Scottish Government – statistics that are very useful as we continue to develop our strategies to prevent such incidents.
However, there is also a need to ensure the statistics are properly understood. The headline on the article was misleading in this regard as bird of prey crimes have been declining overall for some years.
The figure quoted of 64 incidents in 2013 is also ambiguous because it includes all bird species, of which only 23 related to birds of prey.
This is not to deny the existence of bird of prey crimes – and the need to stop them – but imprecise commentary creates its own problems.
An example of this was the incident when six bird corpses were found in Aberdeenshire early this month.
They were assumed to be buzzards killed under suspicious circumstances, as reported in media and online. However, analysis revealed a week later showed that they were not birds of prey at all – a fact that attracted less attention.
As committed members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, such research and statistics contained in this new report can only help us in future years as we continue to fight against wildlife crime.
However, as we seek to resolve the issue, there is a need that such research is reported accurately.
Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group