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"Monumental day for Scotland" as tough new law protects wildlife and countryside


Chirs Packham urges England to follow suit

Legislation protecting birds of prey that also creates tougher regulation for the grouse shooting industry passed its last vote in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (21 March).

A licensing scheme for land where grouse are shot will now be introduced.

Snares and glue traps will also be banned.

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill gives a number of protections to wildlife and the countryside.

Legal protections already existed under the laws such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - RSPB Scotland says nearly 60 gamekeeper have been prosecuted since 1990s

However the new licensing scheme for land which is used for red grouse shoots is seen as an important deterrent.

The risk of losing a licence means there is now a financial incentive for landowners and shoot operators to ensure there is no illegal killing of raptors.

Snares have been used primarily to protect birds such as grouse and pheasants from foxes, so there is a surplus of these birds for people to shoot for 'leisure’.

However, snares are indiscriminate and often trap, injure and kill a wide range of non-targeted species including deer, badgers and even companion animals, such as cats and dogs.

Scottish animal welfare charity, OneKind, has been campaigning for decades for a snaring ban and strongly welcomed the new legislation.

OneKind Director, Bob Elliot, said: “This is a monumental day in Scotland. The Scottish public have made it very clear that they want to see snares consigned to the history books and the Scottish Government has listened. We are delighted that the Scottish Parliament has passed a ban on these archaic traps.”

On the importance of changing attitudes towards wild animals, Elliot said: “An absolute shift in mindset in how we view wild animals - as sentient individuals rather than ‘vermin’ or ‘pests’ - is desperately needed and today’s passing of the Bill is a crucial step in the right direction.

“Wild animals deserve protection too.”

Muirburn is the burning of vegetation to encourage new heather growth for grouse and other animals to feed on.

It has been a land management tool for centuries, and government agency NatureScot says it can have benefits such as reducing the risk of wildfires if done well.

But there is concern it can damage upland blanket bogs which are both an internationally-recognised rare habitat and an important carbon store.

Muirburn can also directly affect wildlife, with the smoke causing nesting birds to desert their nests, and when done badly there is a risk of starting uncontrolled wildfires.

OneKind’s Patron, wildlife TV presenter and conservationist, Chris Packham, said: “Today is a big win for Scotland, for compassion and for common sense, but most importantly a win for our severely declining wildlife. A win I hope to see rapidly extended to England so we can confine this brutal and outdated savagery to the history books where it belongs.

“Huge thanks to OneKind, a host of other welfare organisations, the Scottish public and ministers- we must all take bolder, unified action to stop the relentless war on nature."



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