Offence numbers down on previous year.
Recorded wildlife crime has fallen by 8%, according to the latest official figures.
The annual wildlife crime report, published today, shows reported offences have dropped from 284 in 2014/15 to 261 the following year.
Fish poaching, which remains the most prolific wildlife crime, was down by 26% on the year before.
The report shows an increase in hunting with dogs offences to 44 - up 24 offences on the previous year and the highest number over the five-year recording period.
The report brings together data from the Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and other sources - all members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland).
The data in the report refers to recorded wildlife crime. It does not, for example, include satellite-tagged tagged birds which may have disappeared in suspicious circumstances, as without a carcass or other hard evidence of criminal activity, Police Scotland are not able to record these incidents as crimes.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham said:
“This fifth wildlife crime annual report provides useful data on the issues we face trying to protect Scotland’s wildlife from illegal activity.
“It shows a decrease in overall recorded wildlife crime which is welcome.
“However there is no room for complacency. We know from the report published earlier this year, that it is very likely that golden eagles and other raptors are being illegally killed every year, but where there is no body or tag to be found, these losses do not make it into the recorded crime figures.
“I have set out some measures to tackle the issue of missing raptors, including setting up an independent group to examine grouse moor management practices and a new pilot scheme to use special constables to tackle wildlife crime in the Cairngorms Park. I am determined to put an end to raptor killing and all other types of wildlife crime ”
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Although we are pleased to see the 8% decrease in wildlife crime reports, wildlife crime continues to cause us great concern.
“The increase in hunting with dogs is very worrying and we will work with Police Scotland in any way to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.”
The full report can be read on the Scottish Government website at:
Further information about the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland is available at www.PAW.Scotland.gov.uk