Bird of prey crimes fall by more than a quarter during 2016

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 30 March 2017 in News

New statistics show 14 confirmed bird of prey crimes in 2016 compared to 19 the previous year

Golden eagle - credit: SNH

Bird of prey crimes fell by more than a quarter during 2016, according to statistics from the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland.

The statistics, published as part of PAW Scotland crime maps, show 14 confirmed bird of prey crimes compared to 19 the previous year.

There were four recorded incidents of poisoning, four shootings, three cases of disturbance and three trapping or attempted trapping offences.

Confirmed poisoning incidents fell from six in 2015 to four last year – the second lowest number of recorded poisonings in a single year since PAW Scotland began publishing the maps in 2004.


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RSPB Scotland welcomed the publication of the crime maps, but warned the figures only represent a proportion of incidents that were actually uncovered, and only feature cases where investigations by the police have been completed.

Meanwhile Scottish Land & Estates said the figures show Scotland’s legislative regime is playing a “significant part” in reducing bird of prey crime.

Releasing the figures, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham confirmed the Scottish Government would extend funding to the National Wildlife Crime Unit for another year.

She said: “These latest maps from PAW Scotland demonstrate there has been a further reduction in recorded bird of prey crimes. While this is good news, there is still much work to be done.

“I have ordered a review of the data from satellite tagged birds of prey in an attempt to shed new light on the disappearance of a number of tagged birds.

“So while I welcome these figures today, my message remains clear: The illegal persecution of Scotland’s magnificent birds of prey must end.”

Welcoming the publication of the map, Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: “We share the concern of Environment Secretary over the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged raptors, which do not feature in these statistics, and await the publication of the Scottish Government’s review of this issue with interest.

“There have been repeated instances showing that those criminals who kill Scotland’s protected birds of prey take great care in disposing of the evidence, so it is inevitable that the numbers of victims found will be small.

“Commissioned research published by SNH last year showed that there has been no reduction in the levels of persecution of the north of Scotland red kite population, and when considered alongside other recent peer-reviewed science and survey results, it is clear that the illegal killing of our protected raptors continues to be widespread.”

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said the organisation was “pleased and encouraged” by the fall in incidents.

He said: “Poisoning incidents are down to four recorded cases.  Overall incidents have dropped from 19 to 14 in the last year, a 26 per cent reduction and now at the lowest level since data on all types of incident was first published in 2013. This is encouraging news and demonstrates the value of people working together on the ground and raising awareness of the issue. There is still work to do to eradicate this problem and the evidence points to measures that have been put in place having the desired effect.

“Scotland has one of the toughest legislative regimes around bird of prey crime, some of it introduced quite recently. These figures clearly show that it is playing a significant part in reducing bird of prey crime, even though proposed new penalties for wildlife crime generally are not yet introduced. That should help deliver a further fall in raptor crime and needs to be given time to work.”

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