Illegal poisoning of birds of prey falls to one case in year so far

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The number of birds of prey killed by illegal poisoning in Scotland has dropped again with only one confirmed victim this year, ­latest figures showed yesterday.

The raptor, discovered dead in the Highlands in March, was found to have been poisoned with chemicals used as pesticides called Aldicarb – a highly soluble insecticide used in potato farming – and Bendiocarb, a pesticide which has been withdrawn from sale in the US. It was the only confirmed case of illegal poisoning of the birds in the first quarter of 2012, marking another significant drop in wildlife crime.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) welcomed the significant fall, which follows a 42 per cent reduction between 2010 and 2011 when confirmed poisoning cases of birds of prey fell from 22 recorded incidents and 28 deaths to ten confirmed poisonings and 16 deaths.

Governmental body the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (Sasa), which released the figures, said it didn’t expect a “significant change” in the second quarter of 2012.

It is understood that only two birds of prey have been illegally poisoned this year in Scotland.

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said he believed that the “hugely encouraging” statistics showed that criminals who poison birds of prey realised they could not get away unpunished any more. He said: “The poisoning of birds of prey has no place in our countryside and, through partnership working and education, that message is getting through to the tiny percentage of individuals whose actions work against the great majority who manage land and wildlife responsibly.”