Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has restricted the use of licences to control birds in two separate cases this week. The decision was made on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland of wildlife crime against birds.
These are the third and fourth such restrictions imposed by SNH. Edradynate Estate in Perthshire and an unamed individual in Aberdeenshire will have their licences restricted. They may still apply for individual licences, but these will be closely monitored.
General licences allow landowners or land managers to carry out actions which would otherwise be illegal. This includes controlling common species of wild birds, by shooting or trapping, to protect crops or livestock. General Licences are a light-touch form of regulation and they rely on trust. SNH says that in situations where that trust has been lost, General Licences are not appropriate.
Mike Cantlay, SNH chair, said: “We’re working hard to protect our birds of prey. Raptor persecution doesn’t just damage Scotland’s nature, it also affects tourism which in turn impacts on the economy. Yet, because of the remote locations where most wildlife crime takes place, it’s often difficult to prove. We’re committed to stamping out wildlife crime in Scotland, and will continue to work strongly in partnership with Police Scotland and other members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW Scotland).”
Susan Davies, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s good to see Scottish Natural Heritage using its powers to restrict the activities of individuals and estates implicated in wildlife crime. This range of powers, alongside wider measures announced by the Scottish Government earlier this year to tackle wildlife crime, should encourage the land management sector to show leadership in stamping out these deplorable acts.”
RSPB Scotland said the rulings by SNH followed the discovery of two poisoned buzzards and the setting of illegal traps.
SNH says that nature-based tourism is worth £1.4 billion a year to Scotland’s economy and that these measures will help protect wild birds in the area, while still allowing necessary land management activities to take place, but under tighter supervision. SNH have confirmed that the three-year restriction will increase if more evidence of offences comes to light.