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Annual bird of prey crime maps

Published: 19 Mar 2016 00:01

Details published for 2015.

20 bird of prey crimes were recorded in 2015 including six poisoning incidents, according to the latest bird of prey crime maps published today.

The maps by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland show a slight increase from 2014 which saw 18 bird of prey crimes recorded.

The birds involved in these incidents include buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons, goshawks, osprey and a hen harrier. Poisoning was the most frequently recorded bird of prey crime, but there were also five shootings, five cases of disturbance, three trapping or attempted trapping offences and one chick theft.

A new map showing the locations of other poison baits has also been published. This map includes 6 poisoning abuse incidents over a five year period from 2011-2015 where no bird of prey was confirmed poisoned, but where the type and location of the bait, and the type of poison used could pose a serious threat to these birds.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:

"Whilst these figures only show a small increase in the number of crimes against birds of prey over the last year, it is very disappointing not to see a decrease in the number of incidents.

"I want to be clear that wildlife crime is not acceptable in a modern Scotland and this is why we are doing all we can to end the illegal killing of birds of prey and working in partnership with stakeholders to achieve that. Scotland already has the strongest wildlife legislation in the UK and last month I accepted proposals from the wildlife crime penalties review group to introduce tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife. This sends out a clear message to those who commit crimes against birds of prey – that this will not be tolerated.

"In 2012 we implemented the vicarious liability provisions in relation to offences involving wild birds and last year we secured the second conviction under these provisions. Last year, we also funded the free pesticide disposal scheme which removed over 700kg of illegally held poisons in Scotland, to allow those still in possession of illegal substances to have them removed."

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland's Head of Investigations said:

"While we welcome recent initiatives led by the Scottish Government to bear down on the criminals targeting birds of prey, it is clear that there are still a significant number of people prepared to ignore the laws protecting these species. These latest figures make it readily apparent that claims of a decline in the illegal killing of raptors are wholly without foundation. A growing weight of peer-reviewed scientific research gives clear evidence that the persecution of golden eagles, peregrines and hen harriers is widespread in many upland areas of eastern and southern Scotland. It is long overdue that the criminal targeting of protected raptors was consigned to history."

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

"As members of PAW Scotland, we support the publication of official data on all wildlife crime. While there was not a further decrease in raptor crimes overall in 2015, annual variations are now very small. Poisoning incidents are now 40 per cent down on four years ago and now stand at six cases across the whole of Scotland. The 2015 figures show that the numbers of birds shot has roughly halved over the last three years. The biggest rise was in incidents of disturbance, with two known to be related to ospreys.

"We reiterate our condemnation of any raptor crime, whatever the reason, and will continue to work with other PAW Scotland partners to try to ensure that it will become a thing of the past. We were encouraged that in 2015 there were at least two known instances of gamekeepers on our member estates taking injured red kites to vets."

Detective Chief Superintendent Sean Scott, Chair of the PAW Scotland Raptor Group, said:

"Police Scotland is committed to tackling wildlife crime and reducing the number of crimes against our iconic birds of prey. We will continue to work with partners and the public to protect Scotland's wildlife."

Notes to editors

The hotspot maps can be viewed here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/types-of-crime/crimes-against-birds/Poisoninghotspotmaps/2011-2015

Further details of 5 of the 20 bird of prey crimes recorded in 2015 are currently withheld for police operational reasons. It has therefore not been possible to include the locations of these incidents on the hotspot maps. The incidents are, however, included in the figures provided in the summary tables accompanying the maps. The maps and background data will be updated, where possible, in future publications.

In March 2015, PAW Scotland published a total of 6 poisoning incidents for 2014, including 2 cases where details were withheld for police operational reasons. Subsequent police investigation has led to one of these incidents being classified as no criminal offence taking place. The 2014 poisoning incident total has therefore been reduced from 6 to 5, and the wider bird of prey crime total from 19 to 18.

PAW Scotland is the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland, including the police, land managers, conservationists and government agencies, working together to fight wildlife crime.