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SNH revokes licence on Raeshaw Estate after suspected wildlife crime offences - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estates as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime.

Police Scotland is now investigating the potential offences on the Scottish Borders estate.

SNH imposed a general licence restriction on Raeshaw Estates in 2015 on the basis of clear evidence provided by Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on the estate. The estate challenged the restriction through a judicial review, but the restriction was upheld in March this year.

During a compliance check this month, SNH staff found multiple instances of breaches of conditions of an individual licence that had been granted to cover essential management activities on the estate. These breaches may also constitute offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so SNH has reported the details to Police Scotland.

General licences allow land owners or managers to carry out certain management actions with minimal bureaucracy, largely relying on trust that land managers will carry out activities legally. This includes controlling common species of wild birds to protect crops or livestock. However, those land managers in which SNH has lost confidence may have their General Licences removed, as was the case at Raeshaw. The estate is then allowed to apply for individual licences to control wild birds, which gives SNH more control and oversight of the activities being carried out.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of National Operations, said: “‘After discovering several failures to comply with the terms, we have no other option than to revoke the licence. In cases like this, we have to take breaches of licences very seriously and will work with Police Scotland as they investigate this case. We hope this also spreads the message that we will take action to stop wildlife crime whenever possible. We’re committed to working strongly in partnership with Police Scotland, and other members of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS), to stamp out wildlife crime in Scotland.” 

 

Response: RSPB Scotland responds to news of revoked licence at Raeshaw Estate

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has today announced that it has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estate as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime. In response, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson, said: “Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise at all in relation to this particular estate. These latest multiple breaches found by SNH on the Raeshaw Estate can be added to a long list of confirmed poisoning, shooting and illegal trapping cases in this area dating back over more than a decade.

“The fact that there is an ongoing criminal investigation here, despite the sanctions previously imposed by SNH, echoes a pattern of repeat offending that occurs in a significant number of areas of Scotland where intensive grouse moor management is the main land use.

“While we welcome SNH’s revocation of the individual licenses issued to this estate’s employees, it is clear that current legislation and the available penalties are no deterrent to the continued criminal targeting of protected wildlife. The time has come for a robust regulatory regime, including the licensing of gamebird shoots, where wildlife crimes with a proven link to estate management could lead to a loss of shooting rights.”

  

Wildlife groups call for partnership with shooting community over licensing of gamebird hunting - RSPB

Wildlife conservation organisations are calling for a progressive partnership with the shooting community, to develop a licensing scheme for gamebird hunting in Scotland.

The Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG), the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland want to see a regulatory system introduced that helps tackle wildlife crime while delivering a range of public benefits, and would like to see the shooting industry play a full role in this approach.

The call follows the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee’s consideration this week, of a petition calling for gamebird shooting in Scotland to be licensed - which was lodged by the SRSG.

The committee recognised that the illegal persecution of birds of prey remains a widespread concern and has voted to write to the Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, recommending that the Scottish Government commission an inquiry to explore how such a licensing system could work.

All three wildlife groups welcome the ECCLR Committee’s decision and its view that a fresh approach to address the issue of persecution and the associated unsustainable land management practices is required.

 

Scientific Publications 

Helen Hoyle, Anna Jorgensen, Philip Warren, Nigel Dunnett, Karl Evans, “Not in their front yard” The opportunities and challenges of introducing perennial urban meadows: A local authority stakeholder perspective, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Available online 25 May 2017, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2017.05.009.

 

Fernández, N., Navarro, L. M. and Pereira, H. M. (2017), Rewilding: A Call for Boosting Ecological Complexity in Conservation. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12374

 

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Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS.