Many countries '˜stricter on game hunting rules' than Scotland

Many other European countries have more regulation of game bird hunting than Scotland, a report has found.

The hunting season for birds such as grouse varies according to species in Scotland: Picture: Getty Images
The hunting season for birds such as grouse varies according to species in Scotland: Picture: Getty Images

The Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) study compared regulations on hunting game birds in 14 different European countries.

The Scottish Government now plans to look “very carefully” at the report to see if it can learn lessons on issues such as tackling wildlife crime and raptor persecution.

All 14 countries studied regulate game bird hunting through legislation, using a system of licensing of individual hunters. The strictest impose a harvest quota and make bag reporting a condition of the licence.

In many of the countries examined, hunters must also pass a two-part practical and theoretical examination in order to qualify for a licence.

All 14 countries are able to revoke hunting licences if the legislation is contravened and most also penalise serious breaches of hunting law.

In Scotland, game birds can be shot during their open season, which vary according to the species. Other than the firearms legislation, which provides the necessary control for access to firearms, there is very little regulation associated with hunting game birds.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I welcome the publication of this report. It shows that there is more regulation of game bird hunting in many other countries than we have in Scotland. We will be looking very carefully at these different management approaches to see whether they offer the means to address issues such as raptor persecution.

“Already we have committed to a number of new measures to tackle wildlife crime within Scotland including increases in criminal penalties, a prevention review and the creation of a dedicated investigative support unit within Police Scotland.”

The Scottish Government requested the report as part of a package of work to tackle wildlife crime and, particularly, the illegal killing of raptors.

It also forms part of an ongoing, broader discussion about how land is owned and managed for public benefit.

The 14 countries reviewed were Germany, Norway, Sweden, Spain, France, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Finland, Romania, Estonia, Bulgaria and Denmark, with five chosen as case studies.

All the case study countries drew a link between the regulation of sustainable hunting and the conservation of game bird species.

Earlier research found the countries with the most significant problem with the illegal killing of predatory birds included the UK and Spain.