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Bird crime map of Scotland published

13/01/2009 11:50:34
news/eagle-poisoned

Golden eagle poisoned in the Borders in 2007.

January 2009. A map highlighting Scotland's poisoning 'hot spots', where confirmed poisoning of birds of prey has taken place over the last five years, has been published.

Michael Russell, Minister for Environment, said that this is a 'significant step forward' as the level of crime committed against birds of prey has often been a source of contention between conservationists and land managers. The map was created using factual and verified information to establish a common understanding of the extent and general location of the problem.

Indiscriminate method of killing
Mr Russell said: "It is appalling that as we enter 2009 our birds of prey are still faced with persecution. Poisoning is an indiscriminate method of killing which poses serious risks to other wildlife, and even people, in our countryside. While I am pleased to see there has been an overall improvement in poisoning incidents the map clearly shows it remains a problem in parts of Scotland "Our wildlife is precious and deserving of our protection. Simply put, a crime against Scotland's natural heritage is a crime against Scotland. I applaud those involved for working together on this important issue and hope their efforts will result in a safer Scotland for our birds of prey".

Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA) said: "Our position remains clear; wildlife crime should not be tolerated and should be punished accordingly. This applies to all forms of wildlife crime from the illegal poisoning of birds of prey to poaching and hare coursing. With the publication of this report, we move to a position where we are looking at official Government verified facts, rather than unofficial reports, where often incidents that might not be illegal are captured in the reported persecution statistics.

The size of 'spots' on the map indicates the number of incidents in that area. The larger the spot the greater the number of confirmed incidents. The map does not include figures for poisoned baits. Exact locations of incidents are not shown, in recognition of the fact that birds may travel some distance after ingesting poison. The map therefore randomises precise locations of incidents to produce a variation of around 1km. This avoids any inference being drawn from the exact point of discovery of the bird, but still allows an overview of the worst affected areas. The incidents refer only to confirmed poisoning cases, not all reported incidents of suspected poisoning. The number of incidents does not indicate the number of birds killed.

The size of 'spots' on the map indicates the number of incidents in that area. The larger the spot the greater the number of confirmed incidents. The map does not include figures for poisoned baits. Exact locations of incidents are not shown, in recognition of the fact that birds may travel some distance after ingesting poison. The map therefore randomises precise locations of incidents to produce a variation of around 1km. This avoids any inference being drawn from the exact point of discovery of the bird, but still allows an overview of the worst affected areas. The incidents refer only to confirmed poisoning cases, not all reported incidents of suspected poisoning. The number of incidents does not indicate the number of birds killed.

Significant reduction in bird crime
We are committed to eradicating this problem, but it must be recognised that there has already been a dramatic drop in the number of confirmed incidents in the last 12 month period, following a significant reduction the previous year. I hope this report marks a turning point where we are all focused on making progress to eliminate all forms of wildlife crime, and on finding resolution to this complex problem".

Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime
PAW Scotland is the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime in Scotland. PAW Scotland membership encompasses a wide range of bodies with an interest in tackling wildlife crime including conservation, land management, shooting and law enforcement organisations.
Led by PAW Scotland members RSPB Scotland and the the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA), the new map was compiled using data held by the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA). The final result displays the number and frequency of confirmed poisoning incidents over the past five years.

Birds of prey involved
The map shows only incidents involving birds of prey. Other animal or bird species or poisoned baits are not included. The species of birds confirmed as poisoned and included in the incidents are:
• Red Kite
• Buzzard
• Goshawk
• Peregrine falcon
• Golden Eagle
• Tawny Owl
• Sea Eagle

The arrangements for dealing with wildlife crime were the subject of a major review in 2008, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Inspectorate of Prosecution. The Scottish Government is implementing the recommendations that relate to PAW. These involve a restructuring of the organisation to create a broader base, and a revitalisation of effort with work being taken forward through focused sub-groups. The mapping project is a result of the new partnership working.

Birds of Prey confirmed poisonings in Scotland in 2004-2008

 

Red Kite

Buzzard

Goshawk

Peregrine falcon

Golden Eagle

Tawny Owl

Sea Eagle

Total

2004

3

31

1

3

0

0

0

38

2005

2

14

0

0

1

0

0

17

2006

5

25

0

1

2

1

0

34

2007

10

12

0

4

1

0

0

27

2008

2

13

0

0

0

0

1

16

Totals

22

95

1

8

4

1

1

132

 

The Government-verified map was created with help from Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW).

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