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PAW Scotland - News - 2015 Archive

Landmark Outcomes in Wildlife Crime Cases

13 January 2015

An Aberdeenshire gamekeeper was yesterday sentenced to four months in prison for killing a rare goshawk, the taking of another goshawk and a buzzard, and the illegal use of a trap. The sentencing was the culmination of an investigation and subsequent court case involving a number of PAW partners, including Police Scotland, Crown Office and RSPB, whose video footage showed the offences being committed. Sara Shaw, Procurator Fiscal for Wildlife and Environmental Crime, noted that the severity of the sentence was a reflection of the importance of the laws that exist to protect Scotland's natural heritage and wildlife.

Read the full report on the Crown Office website...

This sentence closely follows the successful outcome of the first ever vicarious liability case in December 2014, resulting in a landowner being fined £675 for the illegal poisoning of a buzzard by one of his employees. The incident took place in December 2012 in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway. Vicarious liability provisions were introduced through the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 and came into force in January 2012. The new law makes landowners or land managers responsible for crimes against wild birds committed by their employees.

In another wildlife crime case sentenced yesterday, the owner of a former zoo in Fife was fined and banned from keeping animals for five years, after admitting animal welfare and illegal wildlife trade offences. Animals were found in inappropriate or squalid conditions, and a number of protected species were displayed without valid certificates.


Lifetime Achievement Award for Fife Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer

20 January 2015Ian Laing with WWF-sponsored Lifetime Achievement Award. © CALLUM BENNETTS - MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY

Former Police Scotland wildlife crime officer for Fife, Ian Laing, has been presented with the WWF-sponsored Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding work, not only combatting and raising awareness of wildlife crime but also establishing vital partnership working in the region through the Fife Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW).

The award was presented at WWF Scotland’s Edinburgh office by Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform - and Chair of PAW Scotland - Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, who said:
Dr Aileen McLeod presents award to Ian Laing. © CALLUM BENNETTS - MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY
“It has been a real pleasure for me to present this award to Ian in recognition of his efforts to tackle wildlife crime. He has shown dedication and skill in the role and he has set the bar high for other wildlife crime officers. Tackling wildlife crime is a priority for the Scottish Government but we can only realise our goals when everyone in the PAW Scotland Partnership plays their part and Ian was instrumental in making this happen in Fife.”

Read the full story on the WWF website...




Scottish Pesticides Disposal Scheme Launched

23 February 2015

A scheme to get rid of illegal pesticides which could be used to poison wildlife has been launched today.

The scheme will allow those who know, or suspect they are in possession of certain pesticides which are illegal to use or possess, to dispose of them safely and confidentially.Seized Aldicarb formulation. SASA © Crown Copyright

Only selected substances will be accepted through the scheme. These are:

  • Aldicarb
  • Carbofuran
  • Carbosulfan
  • Isofenphos
  • Mevinphos
  • Sodium cyanide (usually known as Cymag)
  • Strychnine
  • Most types of Bendiocarb
  • Banned or expired formulations of Chloralose, especially those containing more than 5% Chloralose (weaker ready-to-use formulations are still legally sold for indoor rodent control); and
  • Banned or expired formulations of Aluminium Phosphide.

Find out more about the scheme and how to make use of it...

Read the full Scottish Government press release...


Police Scotland Launch Wildlife Crime Media Campaign

23 March 2015ACC Malcolm Graham and Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod launch Police Wildlife Crime Media Campaign

Police Scotland today launched a new media campaign to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland. The campaign aims to make the public more aware of wildlife crime and encourage people to report suspected crimes to the police.

Attending the launch, Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Management, and Chair of PAW Scotland said:

“I am delighted to support this wildlife crime campaign by Police Scotland who are a critical element of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime. In Scotland we have long recognised the value of our wildlife and the importance of protecting it. Today sees the launch of this important campaign by Police Scotland which will play a key role in raising awareness about wildlife crime and what people should do if they encounter it.

This campaign will also be supported by the wider PAW Scotland membership who will help spread these messages across Scotland.”

The campaign can be supported on social media using the hashtag #EndWildlifeCrime. A web banner and samples of other materials supporting the campaign are available to download here.

Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Media Campaign - Web Banner










Bird of Prey Crime Hotspot MapsMap 3: Bird of Prey Crimes Recorded in Scotland 2013-2014

31 March 2015

The number of recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland has decreased from 23 in 2013 to 19 in 2014, according to the latest bird of prey crime maps published today.

Species targeted included the red kite, buzzard, peregrine falcon, goshawk, golden eagle, hen harrier and tawny owl.

The figures published by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland show six reported bird of prey poisoning incidents in Scotland in 2014, the same number as in 2013. Two of these cases are not included on the maps as they remain under live police investigation and no further details have been released.

Read the full Scottish Government press release...

View the maps and background data...


Operation Easter

7 April 2015

Wild birds are now nesting - many have already laid eggs - and the national campaign to protect them is underway. Egg thieves will go to any lengths to raid the nests of rare species but Operation EASTER is determined to stop them in their tracks.

Read the full story on the NWCU website...


Pesticides Disposal Scheme - Update and Closing Date

6 May 2015

The scheme to get rid of illegal pesticides which could be used to poison wildlife will close on 29 May 2015, Environment Hazardous substancesMinister Dr Aileen McLeod announced today.

To date, more than 80 requests for collection and disposal have already been accepted through the scheme. The most common requests have been for Sodium Cyanide and Strychnine, with stocks of Carbofuran and Mevinphos also disposed of.

Read the full Scottish Government press release...

Find out more about the scheme and how to make use of it...


Report your hen harrier sightings!

7 May 2015Female Hen Harrier Flight. Copyright Laurie Campbell www.lauriecampbell.com

The PAW Scotland Heads up for Harriers project is issuing a fresh call for people to report hen harrier sightings in Scotland.

Read the latest update from the Heads up for Harriers project and how you can help...

Report hen harrier sightings by email to HenHarrier@snh.gov.uk or by phone to 07767 671973.


Co-operation helping hen harriers in Scotland

7 August 2015

The PAW Scotland ‘Heads Up for Harriers’ project has recorded some notable successes in its first full season, with a total of twelve young birds fledging from three successful nests. A further three nests failed, two as a result of bad weather and another due to fox predation. Members of the public have been providing lots of sightings, and several estates have been working closely with PAW Scotland. All of this is adding to the understanding of the distribution of harriers and why nests fail.

Read the full story on the Scottish Natural Heritage website...

Hen Harrier Action Plan - Nest















Hen Harrier death

Minister comments on bird of prey shooting

11 August 2015

PAW Scotland chair and Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod has condemned the shooting of a satellite tagged hen harrier, which has once again highlighted illegal persecution as a threat to the species.

Read the Minister's statement...


Dumfries gamekeeper fined for attacking and killing bird of prey

2 September 2015

A gamekeeper has been fined £2000 at Dumfries Sheriff Court for killing a buzzard in April 2014. William Dick was seen by witnesses throwing rocks at the bird and stamping on it.

Read the full COPFS press release...


Results of pesticides disposal scheme published

9 September 2015Hazardous substances

Over 100 kilograms of Carbofuran and over 480 kilograms of Sodium Cyanide products were safely removed from Scotland’s environment as part of the pesticides disposal scheme, Environment Minister Aileen McLeod announced today.

Read the full press release...


Wildlife Crime in Scotland - 2014 Annual ReportWildlife Crime in Scotland - 2014 Annual Report cover. Photo © Mike Hughes

30 September 2015

Recorded wildlife crime dropped by 20 per cent in the period 2013-14, according to a report published today.

Latest figures show there were 255 recorded wildlife crime offences in Scotland in 2013-14, compared to 319 in 2012-13. The report also shows that since 2010-11, the numbers of confirmed pesticide poisoning abuse incidents have more than halved from 34 per year, to 13 in 2013-14.

Read the Scottish Government press release...

Read the full report...


General licences restricted in wildlife crime hotspots

4 November 2015

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has restricted the use of general licences on four properties in two wildlife crime hotspots - one in Stirlingshire and one in the Borders - this week. The decision was made on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland of wildlife crime against birds.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:

"The announcement by SNH that the use of general licences has been restricted on specified areas of land in the Borders and in Stirlingshire is a result of work that the Scottish Government commissioned in July 2013 as part of a package of measures to combat wildlife crime.

"We welcome the progress that has been made with this work.  However we have not been involved in the decision-making and do not have any comment on the individual cases in question. The General Licence system is a light touch form of regulation. It is clearly sensible to apply closer scrutiny to areas where there is good evidence that wildlife crime has taken place, and we believe that this will prove a useful tool in the fight against bird of prey persecution."

Read the full SNH press release...


Review group’s report recommends increases to wildlife crime penalties

19 November 2015

Scotland’s Environment Minister Aileen McLeod today welcomed the publication of a report examining the penalties available for wildlife crime offences.

The report, drawn up by a review group chaired by Professor Mark Poustie, an Environmental Law expert at Strathclyde University, sets out ten recommendations. As well as increases to the maximum available penalties, the report also recommends greater use of alternative penalties such as forfeiture, systematic use of impact statements in court, new sentencing guidelines, and consolidation of wildlife legislation.

Read the Scottish Government press release...

Read the Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group Report...


Wanted: Winter Sightings of Hen HarriersFemale Hen Harrier in flight. Copyright Laurie Campbell www.lauriecampbell.com

25 November 2015

After a successful public appeal for sightings of hen harriers over the spring and summer – with over 100 reports recorded – the Heads Up for Harriers group is asking the public to help once again this winter.

The hen harrier is one of Britain’s rarest birds of prey, with most harriers found in Scotland. To help safeguard the species, a number of organisations are working together on conservation projects to promote summer breeding success, under the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland).

Sightings of hen harriers can be e-mailed to HenHarrier@snh.gov.uk or reported by calling 07767 671973. Please include any details of places where birds are seen (a six-figure grid reference is best), time and date of sighting, the sex of the bird and any notes on behaviour.

Read the full SNH press release...

Heads up for Harriers


Freshwater pearl mussel crime hotspot maps published

17 December 2015

PAW Scotland has today published hotspot maps showing the location of freshwater pearl mussel crimes recorded between 2010 and 2014. The maps have been published alongside the results of a new survey by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), showing that pearl mussel numbers are declining. Illegal pearl fishing is believed to be one of the main causes for this decline.

View the freshwater pearl mussel crime hotspot maps...

Read the SNH press release...