13% increase in recorded wildlife crime incidents in Scotland – new Government report

The Scottish Government has published its latest annual wildlife crime report, covering the period April 2019-March 2020, which reveals an increase of 13% in recorded wildlife crime incidents.

Raptor persecution offences increased during this period, with shooting and poisoning being the joint highest recorded crime type. Obviously, these figures only represent offences that have been discovered; there will be many more that went undiscovered, as acknowledged by the report’s foreword written by Environment Minister Mairi McAllen.

Here are a few excerpts from the Minister:

After a drop in recorded wildlife crime incidents of over 60% between the 2014-15 report and 2018-19, it is frustrating to see an increase of 13% in recorded wildlife crime incidents in 2019-20. Wildlife crime is not only abhorrent, it is also completely at odds with our work to address the biodiversity crisis, which is supported by so many people and organisations across Scotland.

While it is reassuring that incidents of wildlife crime have not returned to previous higher levels, we remain aware that recorded wildlife crime does not provide the full picture. This is an area where the victims are unable to speak for themselves and we know that many wildlife crimes are not witnessed and not reported. This has been especially true in the area of raptor persecution where tagged birds have disappeared in unexplained circumstances and where expected numbers of some species are not present in certain areas.

The Scottish Government has always been clear that wildlife crime is unacceptable, and we have brought forward a number of measures to tackle the issue over the years. These measures have included a poisons amnesty, vicarious liability, restrictions on general licences and most recently, significant increases in penalties for wildlife crimes. I am sure many of you reading this share my frustration that despite these measures there are some who continue to take a selfish, cruel and callous approach to our wildlife.

It is disappointing to see a rise in raptor persecution offences from the previous year. We have committed to taking forward the recommendations made by the Grouse Moor Management Group as a matter of urgency, to tackle this type of offence. We will bring forward legislation during this parliamentary term with the aim of putting in place a meaningful, effective and workable sanctions through a licensing system to deter and punish those who deliberately commit crimes in our uplands, without placing unworkable and disproportionate burdens on the majority who work within the law‘.

Yada, yada, yada. The Scottish Government’s idea of what constitutes ‘a matter of urgency’ is very different to mine. The Werritty report on grouse moor management, on which the Government made it’s decision to implement a licencing scheme for grouse shooting in Scotland, was submitted in November 2019. Here we are in April 2022 and nothing has happened except repeated statements from Ministers, now over a period of years, about it being a ‘matter of urgency’.

It’s obvious that raptor persecution isn’t going to stop without further statutory intervention, and depending on what that looks like and how it’s implemented and enforced, it probably still won’t stop without a ban on certain types of gamebird shooting. The longer the Scottish Government procrastinates, the longer these crimes will persist.

Pick a date and get on with it.

You can read/download the Scottish Government’s 2020 annual report on wildlife crime here:

6 thoughts on “13% increase in recorded wildlife crime incidents in Scotland – new Government report”

  1. Licensing, will that be as ineffective as the previous measures produced by the present Scottish Government? How many years now, going on 15?!

  2. “The Scottish Government has always been clear that wildlife crime is unacceptable, and we have brought forward a number of measures to tackle the issue over the years. These measures have included a poisons amnesty, vicarious liability, restrictions on general licences and most recently, significant increases in penalties for wildlife crimes. I am sure many of you reading this share my frustration that despite these measures there are some who continue to take a selfish, cruel and callous approach to our wildlife.”

    And yet the very same Mairi McAllen still says that suspension of a General Licence in favour of Individual Licences is a “fair and proportionate response where there is evidence of wildlife crime”. She claims that she still does NOT think “an automatic restriction on all other licence applications is necessary or justified”.

    In which case, where the hell does her stated ‘frustration’ come from?

    Reading her public statements and published interviews indicates to me that Mairi McAllen is an ambitious lawyer with no expressed interest in wildlife or animal welfare at all. Her ‘rural’ interests seem to revolve principally around property values…

  3. Poor Mairi McAllen, she says she is disappointed by wildlife crime statistics but in the same breath refuses to actually carry out the legislation that they have promised over the Werrity review.
    What too about Vicarious Liability and some action on that subject.
    If all this wildlife crime is evident why are the landowning gentry not being brought to book for the actions of their gamekeepers.. I despair….

  4. “It’s obvious that raptor persecution isn’t going to stop without further statutory intervention, and depending on what that looks like and how it’s implemented and enforced, it probably still won’t stop without a ban on certain types of gamebird shooting.” NAILED it Ruth. Only a properly enforced ban will work and all campaigns/organisations opposed to killing ‘gamebirds’ for fun should reflect this fact and not mince about by calling for half measures.

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