Success in the fight against wildlife crime is welcomed

Pesticide poisoning abuse incidents have more than halved since 2010-11.
Pesticide poisoning abuse incidents have more than halved since 2010-11.

Recorded wildlife crime dropped by 20 per cent in the period 2013-14, according to a report published last week.

Latest figures show there were 255 recorded wildlife crime offences in Scotland in 2013-14, compared to 319 in 2012-13.

The report also shows that since 2010-11, the numbers of confirmed pesticide poisoning abuse incidents have more than halved from 34 per year, to 13 in 2013-14.

The figures in the report show that while fish poaching remains the most commonly recorded type of wildlife crime, there has been a reduction in these offences from 135 in 2012-13 to 90 in 2013-14.

The report brings together data from the Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and other sources.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I welcome the publication of the third wildlife crime annual report and I am encouraged to see an overall reduction in wildlife crime across Scotland for the period 2013-14.

“Obviously recent successes in our fight against wildlife crime are not covered in this report, including the first custodial sentence for killing a bird of prey and the first use of vicarious liability provisions.

“However, serious incidents reported so far in 2015 show that we must not be complacent in our efforts to prevent wildlife crime.

“Wildlife crimes damage our environment, threaten the survival of vulnerable species and inflict cruelty on others.

“Working alongside police, prosecutors and other members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, we will continue to increase the pressure on those who persist in breaking the law, until these out-dated practices are consigned to the past where they belong.”

Commenting on the figures Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg, from Peebles, said: “We welcome further significant reductions in wildlife crime and will continue to work towards reducing these crimes even further.

“This comes at a time when the reporting of cases has never been higher.

“From our perspective, we have been hugely encouraged by the numbers of golden eagles, owls, kestrels and hen harriers that have fledged successfully on grouse moors managed by gamekeepers this year, especially when many nests have failed elsewhere during a difficult spring, as we saw with the unfortunate loss of all harrier nests on Skye, for the first time in 16 years, due to weather and suspected fox predation.

“Good habitat management and legal predator control has clearly helped the resilience of these raptor species on the moors and fringes and hopefully this will continue in years to come.”