Scotland

Perthshire estate has bird control licence restricted

Buzzard Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The estate said it would appeal Scottish Natural Heritage's decision, which followed allegations of wildlife crime against birds

A Perthshire estate has had its licence restricted following allegations of wildlife crime against birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said it had taken the steps against Edradynate Estate on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland.

The move will restrict its use of trapping or shooting wild birds. The estate is appealing the decision.

In a separate case, similar action has also been taken against an unnamed individual in Aberdeenshire.

General licences allow landowners or managers to carry out actions which would otherwise be illegal, such as controlling common species of wild birds by shooting or trapping to protect crops or livestock.

They are described as a "light-touch" form of regulation relying on trust and can be restricted.

RSPB Scotland said the rulings by SNH followed the discovery of two poisoned buzzards and the setting of illegal traps.

The restriction notice states it "does not infer responsibility for the commission of crimes on any individuals".

Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption RSPB Scotland handed video footage of the individual in Aberdeenshire over to the police

The cases are just the third and fourth restrictions imposed by SNH under the recently-introduced legislation.

The three-year restrictions can be increased if more evidence of offences comes to light.

SNH chairman Mike Cantlay said: "We're working hard to protect our birds of prey. Raptor persecution doesn't just damage Scotland's nature, it also affects tourism which in turn impacts on the economy.

"Yet, because of the remote locations where most wildlife crime takes place, it's often difficult to prove.

"We're committed to stamping out wildlife crime in Scotland, and will continue to work strongly in partnership with Police Scotland and other members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime."

'Serious' crime

RSPB Scotland welcomed the restrictions, but the organisation's head of investigations, Ian Thomson, said he was "disappointed" no prosecutions had arisen from either case.

"It has been reported by the authorities that these latest restrictions are as a result of evidence of serious wildlife crime offences being found, with clear links to local gamebird shoot management established by the subsequent investigations," he said.

Mr Thomson added that the restriction on the individual was imposed after RSPB investigations staff passed video footage to police of a gamekeeper allegedly setting illegal traps.

A spokesman for Edradynate Estate said: "We are aware of the decision by SNH to restrict the estate's general licence. The estate intends to appeal this decision."

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