Scottish Greens call for increased enforcement as wildlife crime continues during lockdown

Press release from Scottish Greens (3 June 2020)

Concerns over wildlife crime during lockdown

‘Concerning’ wildlife crime during lockdown shows why greater protection and enforcement is needed, the Scottish Greens have said.

Speaking to Scottish Green environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell at Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said there has been reports of incidents concerning nesting birds, badgers and freshwater mussels during lockdown.

That is a concern,” she said, pointing out SNH have not been able to respond in normal ways due to restrictions and have been referring cases to Police Scotland.

Commenting, Mark Ruskell said: “We’ve seen reports across the UK of criminals exploiting the lack of normal monitoring during lockdown to kill animals. I agree with SNH that this is extremely concerning.

This is why current attempts to strengthen the law around wildlife needs to be stronger. I have proposed stronger protection for badgers and giving the SSPCA powers to investigate wildlife crime, both of which would prevent further crimes and make convictions more likely.

We’ve also heard that the RSPB has been ‘overrun’ by reports of birds of prey being illegally killed by those emboldened by the absence of walkers and hikers. Travel restrictions are necessary, but they also apply to private estates. This crisis is not carte blanche for wholesale slaughter of Scotland’s wild animals.”


On the topic of increased powers for the SSPCA, a subject that’s been covered extensively on this blog, Common Weal journalist Sean Bell has written an excellent synposis which includes this comment, hitting the nail on the head:

More broadly, the suggestion that, after nearly a decade of discussion and debate regarding expanded powers for the SSPCA, it is still somehow unclear “why the powers would be needed or what they are for” indicates either a severe lack of interest on the Scottish Government’s part, or an active attempt to roadblock progress on the matter‘.

You can read his article in full here

The Scottish Government chose not to expand the SSPCA’s powers in May 2017 (apparently based on ‘legal advice’) and this decision was buried in amongst an announcement that a review on grouse moor management would be undertaken (this later became known as the Werritty Review), for which we’re still waiting for a Government response.

With raptor persecution showing no sign of decrease since then (e.g. see here) and even continuing through lockdown, it’s good to see the Scottish Greens bringing the issue of increased SSPCA powers back to the Parliamentary table.

4 thoughts on “Scottish Greens call for increased enforcement as wildlife crime continues during lockdown”

  1. This episode of lockdown has revealed the mercenary nature of those who take pleasure from killing willdlife as a sport. When I used to go out against fox hunts, the followers of that activity would whine that they were breaking no law, and that it was their “sport”, to justify the depravity of gaining pleasure from putting a wild animal through an ordeal of terror, culminating in a cruel death. Such types came from rural and urban working class, reinforced by low life characters, whose extracurricular activities were digging out foxes and badgers, with cruel snaring as a further “hobby”. The mounted ones in red, the “toffs” were from the well-off side of our society, who could afford the cost of play acting the role of giving the nation a well-managed countryside, and justifying their case by their practice of controlling the number of foxes, who endangered the survival of poor countryfolk, who depended on a few chickens producing eggs. What they failed to realise was that a new attitude was taking place in the minds of the public, and that was the disgust being shown against blood sports and abuse of animals in general. Such clamour for change showed itself in the formation or the augmentation of existing charities, concerned with the humane treatment of other forms of Life. Freedom to roam revealed to thousands, the despicable way of certain gamekeepers with traps and poisons, leading to the death of Birds of Prey. The evidence was there for all to see, formerly restricted by trespass laws or other blocks on finding recreation in the natural environment. A tsunami
    of anger has developed with overwhelming numbers of people joining conservation and animal protection organisations. With technological advance evidence is much easier to produce of the illegal killing of protected species.

    Not to be defeated, the slayers of wildlife have allegedly developed and strengthened their support in Government, Police and Fiscal services. That has been and is still being seen, as a detestable influence bulwarking the continuance of outdated and cruel activities by a minority of strategically placed people, against the counter forces demanding stricter law enforcement. There are those in Government who should be ashamed of themselves for implementing their promises for reform in UK Government handling of wildlife crime, and in other areas such as farming practices/movement of livestock/slaughter house vigilance/laboratory animals/imported trophy shot carcasses for taxidermy/ivory/badger culling. In Scotland, as long as we have those in power who see certain shooting estates as essential components of its economy, we will not make progress in really protecting biodiversity, both here and elsewhere on the planet. Such anachronistic shams of politicians are not heeding the daily pleas from climate specialists, scientists, tribal peoples, vulnerable coastal communities, forest protectors and many, many others who are alert to the changes about to make our present disruption to our own and the world economies, look like a blink of an eye, or bad dream that will go away. Unless we firmly bring in a new way of looking at the future scene and treating the natural environment, marine/land/atmosphere, more respectfully, then there will be a Biblical tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth and sheer helplessness, as the machinery of destruction envelopes the human race and our part of the world biome, and throw those who impede humane progress, into a Dantean Hell, and let the meek inherit planet. Thank Heavens that the Green Party and others of similar mind exist in our Government to stand up against this unacceptable tyranny of blood sports interests.

  2. Three cheers to the Greens for raising this matter at a time when untold criminal activity and damage is taking place.
    I am sure that we can all can all breathe easy secure in the adeptness of the Scottish Government to provide every possible intervention short of actually being of help.

  3. I applaud this intervention by the Scottish Greens concerning wildlife crime, but when are the Scottish Greens, or any other Greens, come to that, going to address the biggest wildlife/environmental issue of all: human over population?

    While we are at it, when will Friends of the Earth dissociate itself from the policies of Tony Juniper. They could start with his apparent support for Hen Harrier Brood Meddling.

    1. God forbid it should ever be suggested that it ‘may not’ be the absolute right of every human to produce as many offspring as they think they have the right to do, whatever the impact on the world, the economy, the endless living space there clearly is…as long as nowhere on this planet matters if it does not produce tangible benefit to us and our progeny….Shouldnt have got me started Keith!

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