Wildlife crime has not increased – but the persecution of rare birds of prey is growing
Birds of prey species are under threat as a result of growing incidents of poisoning, new figures have revealed.
The Scottish Governmenthas just released a report into the scale of offences involving wild animals – covering everything from badger baiting to damage to freshwater pearl mussel populations.
Although there is no overall rise in wildlife crime, the number of bird of prey that were poisoned increased in 2013.
The biggest wildlife crime problem continues to be poaching related (fish, deer and coursing offences). These offences are both broad in nature and levels of cruelty and can often incorporate elements of organised crime including the use of illegal firearms or gambling.
There continues to be a considerable threat to some of our rarest birds of prey such as red kites, golden eagles and hen harriers
Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “While poaching is the most commonly recorded offence, crimes against our beautiful birds of prey and pearl mussels remain the most serious in terms of damage to Scotland’s natural environment and our reputation. Though the numbers involved are relatively small, there is absolutely no room for complacency.
“I remain unsympathetic to those who believe that crimes against wildlife are of little consequence and can somehow be justified. Offences can have massive ecological impacts whilst others involve great levels of cruelty and I will not accept this in a modern, vibrant Scotland.”
Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland head of species and land management, said: "RSPB Scotland welcomes the publication by the Scottish Government of this second annual report on wildlife crime, and commends in particular the minister for environment and climate change for the deep personal commitment he has made in announcing measures to try to tackle particular issues such as raptor persecution.
“It is clear, however, from the statistics published, that there continues to be a considerable threat to some of our rarest birds of prey such as red kites, golden eagles and hen harriers by a number of individuals who pay little regard to the laws protecting our wildlife."