Scotland reports fall in raptor poisoning but other wildlife crimes may be increasing.


RSPB Scotland has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government report Wildlife Crime in Scotland and is calling for a Parliamentary debate to discuss the issue. The annual report provides information to assist the Scottish Parliament in monitoring progress of wildlife crime enforcement and reduction measures. The results of the report demonstrate that wildlife crime still touches many of Scotland’s rarest and most vulnerable animals and plants.
While the report highlights a welcome reduction in the number of reported poisoning incidents associated with birds of prey in 2012, the RSPB remains concerned that some criminals may have changed tactics from illegal poisoning to trapping, shooting and nest destruction, and is calling for more resources to tackle and prevent these crimes.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “We welcome the publication of this report and the continuing commitment of the Minister and the Scottish Government to wildlife crime enforcement and prevention. We hope this report will stimulate a good discussion by our law makers, particularly around the level of policing and other agency resources that are required to effectively tackle these crimes in both urban areas and the countryside. “We hope that the reduction in reported illegal poisoning of birds of prey in 2012 will be maintained, and that we see a clear effect on the ground with birds of prey returning to our skies in areas where they are currently absent.”

Trapping, shooting and nest destruction taking over from poisoning October 2013.

Raptor poisonings have dropped dramatically in the last three years though other forms of persecutions remain high according to a new report. Figures published earlier this year show raptor poisoning incidents have fallen from thirty in 2009 to just three in 2012. This report shows there were ten further police recorded raptor crimes in 2012 ranging from egg theft to trapping and shooting. The report illustrates, for the first time in one publication, the extent of wildlife crime in Scotland. It brings together key data from the Scottish Government Justice Department, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. As well as detailing offences from 2012 the report lays the foundations for building a clearer picture of trends in wildlife crime in Scotland. As the data series develops it will provide greater clarity year-on-year and guide future action for the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime – PAW Scotland.

The report also includes:

  • Court proceedings for wildlife crime offences over the last five years
  • Police recorded crimes for the same time period
  • Recent legislative changes by the Scottish Government
  • Future direction of wildlife crime policy

Environment and Climate Change Minister and Chair of PAW Scotland Paul Wheelhouse said: “I welcome the publication of this report which is the first of its kind in Scotland. This marks an important milestone in bringing together the data which is so important in helping us understand and combat wildlife crime and it provides a basis for further refinement as data quality improves. “We must not forget that underlying each and every statistic many of the wildlife offences highlighted entail great cruelty and suffering. Badger offences, hunting with dogs and other acts of cruelty to animals are highlighted in the report.

It is extremely disappointing in 2011/2012 these particular three offences numbered 68 recorded crimes. As a civilised society we simply cannot tolerate this level of ill-treatment of our wildlife by individuals pursuing perverted pastimes. “2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland and it is appropriate that this first report has been produced now. It is our responsibility to protect the flora and fauna of this nation and I will continue to work hard alongside our PAW Scotland partners to deliver improved reporting in this area with the on-going aim of reducing and eliminating wildlife crime in Scotland. This will take time and effort from all involved and although not complacent, I am confident that actions the Scottish Government has delivered to date will continue to bring change.”

Increase in the number of Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers ACC Malcolm Graham, of Police Scotland, said: “As this report highlights, since the establishment of Police Scotland there has been an increase in the number of Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers (WCLOs) to cover all 14 territorial policing divisions as well as the appointment of a dedicated National Coordinator. “These changes have already paid significant dividends allowing more opportunities for partnership working with greater local ownership and expertise. Police Scotland is committed to ensuring that wildlife crime is tackled effectively and that those who cause harm and damage to our environment are brought to justice. “The new wildlife crime policing structures are complemented by a real enthusiasm amongst Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers to make a significant impact on this unacceptable form of criminality and to work in close harmony with those other agencies with which we have a joint responsibility to protect the natural assets of Scotland.”

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