Scotland

Bird of prey crimes in Scotland drop by quarter

Buzzard Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Buzzards were among the species illegally killed in 2016

Recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland fell by 26% in 2016, according to official figures.

The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (Paws Scotland) said there were 14 confirmed cases - down from 19 the previous year.

Crimes recorded include poisonings, shootings, disturbance and trapping.

The Scottish government welcomed the figures, but said there was "still much work to be done" on reducing wildlife crime in Scotland.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "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."

Ms Cunningham also confirmed that the National Wildlife Crime Unit, based in Stirling, would receive a further year of funding.

Where were the crimes recorded?

Image copyright Paws Scotland

Incidents were recorded in North Ayrshire, Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and Angus.

The specific locations of some crimes recorded in 2016 are currently withheld because of ongoing police investigations.

Source: Paws Scotland

Buzzards and a goshawk were among the species illegally killed in 2016, while the golden eagle and osprey were victims of disturbance cases.

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, which the Scottish government said was the second lowest number in a single year since the wildlife crime partnership was formed in 2004.

Scottish Land and Estates, which is a partner in Paws Scotland, said the figures were "encouraging", but that work was still needed to eradicate the problem.

The organisation's chief executive, Douglas McAdam, said: "The land management sector recognises that some of the incidents may have been related to game shooting interests and is committed to keep working to bring those figures down even further in future.

"We strongly endorse the careful use of proven police evidence in drawing up these maps and although there is limited information about some incidents, the range of species and locations indicates that the motivation behind these crimes is varied."

Image copyright Getty Images

RSPB welcomed the fall in recorded crime, but said the figures represented an "unknown proportion" of total incidents and only included cases were police investigations had been completed.

Ian Thomson, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: "We share the concern of the 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."

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