Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse rightly speaks of a blight and has proposed a toughening of the legal response to crimes against birds of prey.
In 2010, we and other authors from many sides of the conservation debate wrote a report for a Scottish Natural Heritage conference on resolving the red grouse–hen harrier conflict.
We were clear that enhancing legal provision was only one of a number of ways to address this conservation conflict.
Our partnership continues to seek evidence-led ways as well as the application of the law to resolve the conflict in parallel. Research is under way to establish whether fears about impacts on game and wildlife are justified.
We are testing practical ways of reducing impacts and are actively engaging the land management and conservation communities in discussion.
This approach is needed to establish whether there are ecological or other reasons why the threat of legal action has not resulted in an end to the illegal killing of raptors over the past 30 years.
Where there are such reasons, a modern, balanced package of responses will be needed to support and enhance all of Scotland’s wildlife.
(Dr) Adam Smith
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust