Charity linked to hunting interests wants to remove threatened mammals
Wildlife groups have taken aim at hunting lobby plans to wipe out populations of one of Scotland’s most threatened mammals.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust(GWCT), a charity, wants to launch a trial to trap and relocate pine martens.
If the group – which is funded by the hunting lobby – gets its way, some of the cull would take place in woodlands owned by RSPB Scotland, which has condemned the move.
GWTC wants to get rid of 120 pine martens over six years from four Strathspey forests.
It says getting rid of the animals – which are endangered and have full legal protection – could ease pressure on plummeting capercaillie populations, as pine martens eat eggs and chicks.
However, conservationists have questioned this - and some have suggested the move could lead to pine martens being persecuted to protect the hunting industry’s red grouse stocks.
Persecution from gamekeepers almost drove pine martens to extinction in Scotland and the population is only now recovering.
RSPB Scotland’s Duncan Orr-Ewing said: We have not agreed to this happening on any RSPB Scotland nature reserves. We are proud that martens and capercaillie are found in our forests.”