Government publishes latest report on wildlife crime

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse
Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse

More cases of birds of prey crime and of hunting with dogs went before the courts in Scotland last year than the year before, according to latest statistics.

The Scottish Government’s latest report on wildlife crime (2103), published today (Monday, October 20) shows 19 people were proceeded against in relation to birds crime, compared to 15 the years before. And 11 people faced hunting with dogs charges last year compared to five the year before.

But there was a drop in poaching and game laws offenders’ cases with only one brought (and found guilty) compared to eight in 2011-12.

In the Lothian and Borders police area, Police Scotland recorded a buzzard shooting in March last year, a tawny owl trapped in April and another buzzard shot and poisoned some time over June and July last year.

The region overall saw 12 crimes against birds recorded last year, seven involving cruelty to wild animals, three to deer, one of hunting with dogs and 15 salmon and freshwater fisheries offences. The area came middle of the table for wildlife crimes, with 79 recorded in the police’s northern area, 62 in Grampian, 60 in central while neighbours Dumfries and Galloway had just 12 and Fife, even less, with nine.

Recorded crimes in Scotland as a whole over 2012-2013 were 319, up 12 on the previous year but down by over 30 on 2010-11.

And the Borders, in line with the rest of the country, is seeing a significant percentage of its wildlife crime related to angling. In Scotland overall salmon and freshwater fisheries cases made up over 40 percentage of all recorded wildlife offences in 2012-13.

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Wildlife crime is still taking place at unacceptable levels in our countryside. Crucially there is a real risk to the conservation status of some of our most important species.”

The Berwickshire politician continued: “Wildlife crime can have seriously damaging effects on the functioning of Scotland’s ecosystems as well as our wildlife tourism industry and our international reputation as a country that values its natural environment and the wildlife within it.”