persecution of birds of prey in Scotland

Posted on March 22, 2013


Today (22nd March), an item was posted on the web-site of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) titled ‘Three too many’.

‘… The League attended the Scottish Wildlife Crime Conference, which was held in Tulliallan on Thursday 14th March.

One of the major items for debate at the conference and one that was trailed in the newspapers ahead of the day, related to the fact that incidents of birds of prey poisoning have greatly reduced over the last few years.28 raptors were killed by poison in 2010, and 16 in 2011, but this dropped to 3 in 2012 …

The “vicarious liability” clause, which was introduced by the Scottish Government in January 2012, is thought to be largely responsible for the decline in the number of raptor poisoning. Vicarious liability means that landowners cannot turn a blind eye to employees who persecute raptors on their lands. For example, a landowner whose gamekeeper poisoned an eagle to increase the estate’s grouse bag would find themselves in the dock.

The decline in incidents is very encouraging. The Scottish Government have done a great deal to record poisoning incidents and publish a map with the locations of poisoned birds plotted onto it. The “vicarious responsibility” statute puts Scotland ahead of the rest of the UK in ensuring that landowners take responsibility for the actions of their employees.

However, some delegates at the conference were concerned that, rather than a sign that raptor persecution was ending, the fall in poisoning incidents was simply a sign that birds of prey were being killed by other methods, including traps.

The Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, attended the conference. He referenced the ongoing problem of raptor persecution in his speech, saying that “while it remains frustrating that a small number of people continue to illegally persecute birds of prey, this substantial decline is testament to the good work undertaken by the PAW Scotland partners to tackle the issue of raptor poisoning. There has been real progress but we will not be complacent. I am determined to stamp out these practices once and for all and will remain vigilant to any change in approach being taken by those who seek to persecute raptors.”

Here at the League, we are very encouraged by the fall in casualty numbers, but three dead birds of prey is still three too many. The Scottish Government need to carefully monitor the actions of those involved in the shooting industry, and act quickly to prosecute anyone who harms raptors – including those who kill eagles, buzzards and other birds to protect their “sport” …’

Read the item and add your comment online at

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