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by Liam Kirkaldy
31 March 2015
Raptor crime persists

Raptor crime persists

Birds of prey continue to be persecuted in the Scottish countryside despite a fall in the number of recorded raptor crimes last year, according to latest statistics.

While the total number of recorded raptor crimes fell from 23 in 2013 to 19 in 2014, there was an increase in the number of individual birds poisoned.

However, the figures show an overall reduction from 2010 where the five-year figures were at their highest, with 28 birds poisoned over 22 separate incidents. The report records 74 birds as being poisoned between 2010 and 2014.

Figures from the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland report six bird of prey poisoning incidents in 2014 - the same number as 2013 - with other instances of raptor persecution including shooting, trapping and disturbance.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Aileen McLeod said: “In the last few months, we have seen the first ever custodial sentence for the killing of birds of prey and the first conviction of a land owner under the vicarious liability provisions, for crimes committed in 2012. This sends out a clear message to those who continue to pursue these illegal and cruel practices against Scotland’s birds of prey that this will not be tolerated.”

Tim Baynes, Moorland Group Director for Scottish Land and Estates, said: “Scottish Land & Estates is delighted that 2014 has seen a fall in bird of prey crimes. The land management community can never take its eye off this issue, but we hope that there will be recognition of the efforts that have been made to ensure a continuing downward trend in incidents related to land management.

“We strongly support the scheme recently launched by the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform to get rid of illegal pesticides which will help to minimise the risk of any more incidents such as the one in Ross-shire in 2014, where farmers and landowners have offered rewards for information.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland's Head of Investigations, said: "While we acknowledge that numbers of detected poisoning incidents continue to be at relatively low levels, this is only part of the story. While occasionally there are high-profile incidents such as that on the Black Isle, there continues to be a campaign of illegal killing against our protected birds of prey in some areas, as evidenced by the recent film released by Police Scotland showing the systematic targeting of a goshawk nest, and the absence of successfully breeding hen harriers, peregrines and golden eagles in many areas of our uplands.”

Earlier this year, the first jail sentence for crimes against birds of prey was handed down when an Aberdeenshire gamekeeper was sentenced to four months in prison for killing a goshawk and other offences.

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