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PAW Scotland - News - 2014 Archive

Wildlife Crime DetectivesEnvironment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, with Wildlife Crime Officer Neil Gilmour and pupils from Bonaly Primary School. Copyright Scottish Government

Online pack to educate children about wildlife crime

30 January 2014

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and chair of PAW Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse today launched an online 'Wildlife Crime Detectives' Education Pack with a visit to Bonaly Primary School in Edinburgh.

Mr Wheelhouse talked to a class of Primary 6 pupils about wildlife crime, including raptor persecution, poaching and freshwater pearl mussel crimes. Local Wildlife Crime Officer PC Neil Gilmour was also on hand to talk to the pupils about his work. He demonstrated a selection of illegal traps and showed the children examples of illegal animal products including ivory. The class also went through one of the activities from the education pack - using a series of clues to investigate a suspected case of bat roost disturbance.

The Minister and PC Gilmour were then put through their paces answering a series of questions from the pupils, who impressed all those present with their level of knowledge and interest!

The pack is designed to teach Primary 5-7 age children about the impact of wildlife crime and how they can help combat the problem. It will help to raise children’s awareness of wildlife crime issues and increase their knowledge of legitimate countryside practices. Children will be encouraged to explore the moral issues surrounding wildlife crime while learning important safety messages.

Read the full SG press release...

Download the education pack...


Financial Security for the National Wildlife Crime Unit

6 February 2014NWCU Logo

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Paul Wheelhouse, has confirmed the Scottish Government will continue their funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) for the next two years. This will cover the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The Minister said:

“I am delighted to once again confirm the Scottish Government’s support of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, based in Livingston. The NWCU is a highly valued resource and is a critical part of wildlife crime investigation both in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This funding will provide much needed security for the NWCU allowing them to focus on what they do best, building the intelligence picture on wildlife crime and providing expert assistance in the investigation of wildlife criminals.”


Birds of prey poisoning maps

New maps published to show all crimes

28 March 2014

The number of reported and confirmed illegal bird of prey poisoning incidents in Recorded Bird of Prey Crimes Scotland 2013 Hotspot Map. Crown Copyright 2014Scotland has increased to 6 in 2013 from 3 in 2012.

The birds involved were a red kite, a golden eagle and 4 buzzards. Despite the increase, this remains a significant reduction from 2009 where the 5 year figures were at their highest level of 30 poisoned birds (across 22 incidents).

For the first time the maps published today, by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, show not only poisonings but all recorded crimes against birds of prey. These new maps will be built on year on year, like the poisoning maps, to eventually show a 5 year picture.

PAW Scotland Bird of Prey Crime Hotspot Maps 2009-2013>>

View the poisoning map for 2009-2013>>

View the poisoning map for 2013>>

View the map showing all recorded bird of prey crimes for 2013>>

Read the full Scottish Government press release>>


Wildlife crime powers

Consultation looks at increasing authorities for SSPCA inspectors

31 March 2014

Views are being sought on extending the investigative authority of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) Inspectors which could provide a greater resource to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.

Under the proposals, SSPCA inspectors would be able to investigate crimes relating to wild birds, other protected animals, poaching, snaring and non-native species of animals. Those investigations could involve accessing land and premises, searching for evidence and seizing any evidence found. Access to dwellings and locked buildings would be granted by warrant only.

The consultation seeks to get views on the proposals which would allow the SSPCA to investigate situations where animals were not in distress - for example checking illegal traps where no animal is present or an animal is already dead.

Members of the public and key organisations are now being invited to respond to the consultation by September 1, 2014.

Read the full Scottish Government press release>>

Read the consultation paper>>


Operation Easter

14 April 2014

Egg thieves will go to any lengths to raid the nests of rare species but a major initiative, developed in Scotland, is determined to stop them in their tracks.

Operation Easter is a campaign by the police, involving the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), and RSPB. It targets egg thieves by monitoring their activities and sharing intelligence across the UK. It also raises awareness by giving general advice to the public about suspicious activity and also specialist advice to police officers.

Read the full SG press release...


PAW Scotland Raptor Group Responds to Ross-shire Mass Poisoning Incident

16 April 2014

The PAW Scotland Raptor Group held its quarterly meeting at SNH’s Battleby office yesterday and was united in condemning the recent poisoning of red kites and buzzards in Ross-shire. The Group also noted the potentially serious impact of the loss of so many breeding birds on the red kite population of northern Scotland.

The Group recognised that more needs to be done to strengthen the message that all forms of raptor persecution are completely unacceptable. The Group will ensure that this message is heard throughout Scotland and is strongly and publicly supported by all bodies representing land use, field sports and conservation. The Group agreed to set up a short life working group to make recommendations as to how to deliver a strong message that commands wide support and is focused on preventing raptor persecution. The aim is to encourage all those with any information about such illegal practices to report this to the police.

The PAW Scotland Raptor Group includes representatives from:

Scottish Land & Estates
Scottish Gamekeepers Association
British Association for Shooting and Conservation
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
National Wildlife Crime Unit
Police Scotland
Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture
Scottish Natural Heritage
Scottish Government


Minister Unveils New Version of PAW Forensics Guide

Scotland leads the way with wildlife crime forensicsEnvironment Minister Paul Wheelhouse unveils new PAW Forensics Guide with (l) Guy Shorrock, RSPB and (r) Lucy Webster, SASA. Crown Copyright 2014.

30 April 2014

A number of innovative processes are now being used by investigators to identify those responsible for the deaths of Scotland’s beautiful wildlife.

At the Scottish Wildlife Crime Conference at the Scottish Police College in Tulliallan today, Environment and Climate Change Minister and chair of PAW Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, unveiled a guide which has been produced by the PAW Forensic Working Group (FWG).

Download an electronic copy of the guide in PDF format...

Read the full SG press release...


Investigations into buzzard poisoning and killing of hen harrier

25 June 2014

Police in Fife are conducting investigations after a dead buzzard was found in woods to the north of Ballingry in late April. Enquiries at that time suggested the bird had died of natural causes, however tests carried out by a Scottish Government laboratory (SASA) indicated that the bird was likely to have fed on an animal carcass deliberately laced with illegal poison.

This news closely follows the announcement earlier this week that Police Scotland and the SSPCA had launched a joint enquiry after a female hen harrier was found dead near Muirkirk in Ayrshire on 17 June. The police cannot divulge how the bird was killed, but believe it was the result of criminal action. Two harrier chicks were found alive in the nest nearby and have been taken into the care of the SSPCA, where they are said to be doing well.

Anyone with information on either of the incidents should contact Police Scotland on 101.

Commenting on these incidents, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and chair of PAW Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse said:

“I have been hugely angered to learn about another case of a poisoned buzzard, following on from a separate incident involving the illegal death of a hen harrier in Ayrshire. I have made it very clear that I will not tolerate these criminal and selfish acts and this form of criminality has also been roundly condemned by parliament in a recent debate.

“These crimes are not the actions of people who value Scotland’s wildlife and natural environment and I encourage anyone with any information on these despicable crimes to contact Police Scotland on 101. My officials are working on a pesticide disposal scheme to rid illegal substances from our countryside and I hope to see this up and running very soon, while the implementation of changes to the General Licences is in progress. Our ongoing review of wildlife crime penalties is due by December and these latest incidents only add to the evidence supporting a toughening of sanctions and penalties on perpetrators.”


Scottish Badgers Officer Wins PAW Partner of the Year Award

7 July 2014

Ian Hutchison, Scottish Badgers, with PAW Partner of Year Award. Photo Copyright: Scottish Badgers 2014.Ian Hutchison, Species Protection Officer for the charity Scottish Badgers, has been given the PAW Partner of the Year Award for 2013. Mr Hutchison, a retired police officer, received the award at the recent UK Environmental Law Association conference in Edinburgh.

The award is sponsored by Browne Jacobson Solicitors, and is made to the person or organisation who has made the greatest contribution to the objectives of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in the preceding year.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and PAW Scotland Chair, Paul Wheelhouse said

"Badger persecution is currently one of the six wildlife crime priorities, not least because of the extreme levels of cruelty involved in crimes such as baiting."

"I would like to congratulate Ian on this highly deserved award, which recognises the huge amount of time, energy and expertise he has brought to his role in protecting badgers in Scotland, and more recently the wider UK, through his appointment as Crime Prevention lead for the UK Badger Persecution Priority Plan."

Ian Hutchison commented: "I am delighted to receive this award which reflects the partnership working of NGOs throughout the UK."

Figures collated by Scottish Badgers show that there were 47 reported incidents in the 12 months to the end of December 2013 compared to 45 for the same period in 2012. Many of them involved badger baiting with dogs, which can result in serious and horrific injuries to the dog as well as killing the badger.

There will doubtless be other incidents which have gone unreported due to the secluded nature of setts and often old damage caused by criminals is found when setts are visited long after the event.

There have been other reported incidents where illegal snares have been set and they have either accidentally caught badgers or appear to have been set specifically to capture badgers.

The charity have also warned that many incidents of sett damage are caused by farming activity, and advise that those working in the countryside could avoid the risk of criminal penalties by taking official advice before carrying out activities like ploughing.

Anyone who discovers a suspected incident of badger persecution should report it as soon as possible to:

  • Police Scotland - dialling 101 will take you to the local call centre, or 999 if it is an emergency.
  • The SSPCA on 03000 999 999, particularly if a live animal is in danger or suffering. Information is treated in strict confidence and can be given anonymously.
  • Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
  • More information can be found on the Scottish Badgers website.

Ian Hutchison with Scottish Badgers Trustees. Photo Copyright: Scottish Badgers 2014.








Cairngorms National Park Authority Correspond with Minister on Raptor Issues

23 September 2014

Following further incidents of raptor persecution in 2014, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) were invited to join the PAW Scotland Raptor Group.

Duncan Bryden, Convener of the CNPA has written to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change (and PAW Scotland Chair) Paul Wheelhouse, to lead discussions on this area of crime which can affect the National Park.

Read the CNPA's letter and the Minister's response on the CNPA website...


Wildlife Crime in Scotland - 2013 Annual ReportWildlife Crime Annual Report 2013 Cover. Image ©Lorne Gill/SNH

20 October 2014

The second annual report on wildlife crime in Scotland is published today and highlights that poaching and coursing offences remain the most high volume wildlife crime in Scotland. This report covers wildlife crimes ranging from badger baiting, raptor persecutions and damage to precious freshwater pearl mussels. Figures published earlier this year show raptor poisoning incidents have risen from three in 2012 to six in 2013.

This builds on last year’s initial report which brought together key data from Scottish Government Justice Analytical Service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. The aim is to paint a picture of what is happening in Scotland so that it can be understood and acted upon.

Whilst the overall format is largely the same, feedback has been taken on board to improve the layout and clarity of some of the tables and figures provided.

Read the Wildlife Crime in Scotland - 2013 Annual Report

Read the Scottish Government Press Release


Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Questionnaire

31 October 2014

The group set up to examine the penalties for wildlife crime offences has produced a questionnaire seeking views on the subject. This has been circulated to stakeholders in PAW Scotland, but the group would also like to invite views from others with an interest in, or direct experience of, some of the issues that the questionnaire raises.

The questionnaire can be downloaded at the link below, and responses should be returned to by the end of 21 November 2014.

Please note that this is not an official Scottish Government consultation exercise.

Download the questionnaire...