Tackling wildlife crime
Tough new penalties for wildlife offences
24 February 2016
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has accepted recommendations from the wildlife crime penalties review group to introduce tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife.
Subject to the necessary legislative steps this could mean fines of up to £40,000 and 12 months imprisonment for certain offences.
The Scottish Government will take forward a number of other recommendations including:
Greater use of alternative penalties such as forfeiture of equipment used to carry out offences
Greater use of impact statements in court to better explain the impact a wildlife crime may have
Explore creation of new sentencing guidelines
Read the Minister's letter... (PDF 1Mb)
Read the press release...
Annual bird of prey crime maps
Details published for 2015
19 March 2016
20 bird of prey crimes were recorded in 2015 including six poisoning incidents, according to the latest bird of prey crime maps published today.
The maps by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland show a slight increase from 2014 which saw 18 bird of prey crimes recorded.
The birds involved in these incidents include buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons, goshawks, osprey and a hen harrier. Poisoning was the most frequently recorded bird of prey crime, but there were also five shootings, five cases of disturbance, three trapping or attempted trapping offences and one chick theft.
View the hotspot maps and background data...
Read the full Scottish Government press release...
Public asked to report hen harrier sightings
26 April 2016
The public is being asked to report any hen harrier sightings this year by the ‘Heads Up for Harriers’ project group. Run by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, this is one part of the effort to help rare hen harriers.
Hen harriers frequent many Scottish moors, where their acrobatic aerial courtship displays are a tell-tale sign of breeding activity. But their distribution and numbers are still restricted in some areas.
A number of causes, including illegal persecution, land use changes and predation, have resulted in a reduction in hen harrier numbers, to the point that the hen harrier is now one of Britain’s rarest birds of prey. In reality, however, many factors are likely to come into play – and the project wants to determine these.
Read the full SNH press release...
More information about the project and what to look for...
Appeal following disturbance of bird of prey nests in Tomatin
7 June 2016
Police in Inverness are appealing for information regarding the disturbance of bird of prey nests and the unexplained disappearance of adult buzzards and goshawks from the nests in Moy Forest, Tomatin.
Nest disturbance and disappearance of the adult birds suggests that the nests have been the subject of illegal activity. This activity is likely to have taken place over a number of weeks.
Anyone with any information is asked to report it to Police Scotland on 101, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.
Read the full Police Scotland press release...
Environment Secretary condemns illegal use of spring traps
22 July 2016
RSPB Scotland has appealed for information following the discovery of illegally-set spring traps in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. On 27 June 2016 two members of the public walking at Geallaig Hill, a few miles north west of Ballater, discovered a common gull with both legs caught in spring traps which had been set on the ground next to a rabbit bait.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, and Chair of PAW Scotland, Roseanna Cunningham said:
"All forms of wildlife crime are unacceptable and I condemn the illegal use of spring traps wherever it takes place. In Deeside, the use of them has resulted in tremendous suffering for a gull which had to be euthanised. It is difficult to see their use as anything other than a blatant and criminal attempt to target protected birds of prey. The Scottish Government takes this issue extremely seriously and I urge anyone with any information about criminal activity intending to harm our wildlife to contact Police Scotland.”
Read the full RSPB press release...
PAW Scotland Statement
1 September 2016
The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland is calling for a cool-headed discussion about the disappearance of birds of prey in the Scottish highlands.
The call comes following unsubstantiated claims by a gamekeeper who believes ‘bird activists’ might be to blame. Louise Batchelor, a spokesperson for PAW Scotland, says that there appeared to be no evidence to back the claims. There were reports that the gamekeeper said: “I certainly would imagine that there would be a few activists who would take a chance of doing something and I wouldn’t put it past them.’’
Reports also said that some pressure groups had called for grouse shooting to be outlawed and they reported the gamekeeper as saying that call ‘might give activists a motive for sacrificing a few birds of prey’. Louise Batchelor said: “The idea that ‘bird activists’ were responsible for the disappearance of golden eagles and hen harriers as part of some conspiracy theory, to smear gamekeepers, is ridiculous. This kind of claim, made without foundation, cannot go unchallenged and PAW Scotland will continue to take the lead in any serious debate about what is happening to Scotland’s birds of prey. ”
It’s understood that the gamekeeper behind the claims does not belong to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who are members of PAW Scotland. A spokesman for the SGA said: “As has always been the case since these reports have emerged, our sole focus is the investigation. The SGA will do anything we can to assist Police Scotland and the Scottish Government in their investigations and we do not comment on the opinion of private individuals.”
Satellite tagged hen harrier missing in Monadhliaths
18 August 2016
RSPB Scotland has today announced that a young male hen harrier, fitted with a satellite transmitter as part of the charity’s part EU funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, has gone missing on a grouse moor in the Monadhliath Mountains, south-east of Inverness.
The bird, named Elwood, was the only chick to fledge from a nest in Banffshire, which was being monitored under the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland "Heads-up for Harriers" scheme.
This news follows reports last week that eight satellite tagged golden eagles had gone missing in the same area over the past five years. Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham has ordered a review of raptor satellite tracking data.
Commenting on the latest RSPB press release, the Cabinet Secretary, who is also the Chair of PAW Scotland, said:
“The news that a juvenile hen harrier has disappeared in the Monadhliaths, complete with its satellite tag, only weeks after it fledged, strengthens my determination to get to the truth about how, where and why raptors with functioning satellite tags seem to be regularly disappearing. I have asked for a review of all the evidence and I intend to ensure that data from hen harriers and red kites, as well as data from golden eagles will be considered as part of this. We are continuing to collect evidence in relation to raptors in Scotland, which will be a significant factor in deciding the next steps for tackling wildlife crime.”
(Photo of hen harrier chick Elwood in nest, courtesy of RSPB Scotland)
Wildlife Crime in Scotland - 2015 Annual Report
25 November 2016
Recorded wildlife crime rose by 11 per cent in the period 2014-15, according to a report published today.
Latest figures show there were 284 recorded wildlife crime offences in Scotland in 2014-15, compared to 255 in 2013-14. The report also shows however that over the 5 year period between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the overall numbers of recorded crimes have fallen from 355 to 284, a drop of 20%.
Read the Scottish Government press release
Read the full report