RSPB expresses anger at wild bird killings in Scotland

[singlepic id=242 w=200 h=300 float=left]The RSPB has expressed concern over the high number of wild birds illegally killed in Tayside. The comments were made after recent statistics were published by the Scottish Government, which show a total of 14 incidents detected in the area over a 12-month period until March 2011.

Despite continued attempts to bring those responsible to justice, the authorities face an uphill battle, with much of the activity — usually involving lethal poisons — left unreported.

Investigations officer at RSPB Scotland Ian Thomson believes the problem is far worse than the statistics suggest. He said, “A lot of the crime is not being reported, it is sheer luck when these birds are found. In the moorland around Angus there is a real shortage of birds of prey and there shouldn’t be.

“These birds should be there and yet they are not. We are detecting an unknown proportion of the overall picture. All the science and all the statistics suggest that we are finding much less than what is really happening.

“For example, every year on average a golden eagle dies.

“Last year, however, was particularly bad with four found dead — although I must add that none was in the Perthshire or Tayside area.

“There is still a problem with the illegal killing of wild birds.”

In the latest figures obtained by The Courier through Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), a Scottish Government body, it reveals a grim catalogue of death to some of the country’s most loved and protected wild birds. Included are six occasions where buzzards were killed and a further four involving red kites.

Custodial sentence

Tayside Police continue to investigate a number of these cases, which, if brought to court, can result in the culprit being hit with a fine or even face a custodial sentence.

PC Bryan Prestwood is a wildlife crime officer based in Angus who believes the biggest problem is with gamekeepers and land managers who are put under pressure to maintain wild game stocks and as a result attempt to kill off birds of prey.

However, he was quick to add that this does not apply across the board.

“We do not like to label every gamekeeper as up to no good but we know some want to clear the land of predatory animals, mostly birds of prey, so that their grouse and pheasant shooting is not affected,” he said.

“I must add that the landowners often do not know this is going on and it can be that their employees are doing this off their own back.”

The debate on how best to manage estates is one that attracts mixed opinions.

Malcolm Taylor, head of land management for Bell Ingram which offers advice to clients on estate running, says the argument is a fascinating one with a raft of issues to be considered.

“You have things like fox control and the birds of prey attacking nesting upland birds,” he said. “It is quite a difficult mix to control. It’s whether or not one will ever be allowed to control raptors, would that make any difference? I suspect not.

“On the other hand they can cause a huge amount of damage. It is not simply down to a game funding issue.

“The question is how do you manage the uplands for every bird? It is one of the challenges of upland management. There is an answer but I am not quite sure what it is.”

The RSPB said the animal deaths are added to the “catalogue of shame” documenting the last two decades of relentless human killing of Scotland’s protected bird of prey species.

1 comment to RSPB expresses anger at wild bird killings in Scotland

  • John Miles

    This just shows that land agents are just as bad as land owners and game keepers. My experiences with these types of people show that the land agent is clueless about wildlife in general so should not be advising estate owners on how he or she should manage the land. The only ‘bible’ they read from is ‘grouse in health and disease’ dated 1902, same age as most of these land agents!!