As part of Operation Equinox Grampian Police will be visiting popular coastal shooting areas over the coming months to raise awareness of offences related to the use of lead shot.
Wildfowling takes place in Scotland between the 1st September and 20th February (depending upon species) where certain duck, geese and wading birds may be lawfully shot.
Wildfowling remains a public right across the most of Scotland below the mean high water mark, however the extensive use of lead shot over coastal areas and inland wetlands has resulted in some incidents of poisoning of these habitats and in particular the bird species that depend upon them.
In 2005 the use of lead shot over wetlands was banned in order to prevent further poisoning incidents, and wildfowlers now use steel and tungsten based alternatives if shooting in these areas.
However a number of recent incidents reported to Grampian police indicate that some individuals are continuing to use lead shot over wetland habitats in the region.
Andy Turner Wildlife Crime Education Officer explains "The majority of wildfowlers have a good knowledge of the legislation under which they are operating and carry out their sport in a safe and responsible manner. However there have been a number of reported incidents –particularly around the River Ythan - where it is strongly suspected that some individuals are continuing to use lead shot, in addition to other offences relating to the use of electronic calling devices to lure birds and shooting of non-target species"
"Grampian Police Wildlife Crime Unit have arranged for information boards to be erected at key wildfowling sites across the Force area, from Findhorn Bay in the north to the river North Esk in the south. In addition we will be taking the opportunity to speak with wildfowlers over the coming months about the legislation under which they operate".
Colin Shedden, Director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in Scotland said “All coastal wildfowlers and others shooting on or over inland wetlands, such as flight ponds, should be aware of the legislation that prohibits the use of lead shot. We are pleased that there is widespread adherence to this legislation and that, since 2005, there have been no convictions. However, we support Grampian Police in this initiative and following up of reports of possible offences.”
A Practical Guide to the Lead Shot Regulations in Scotland is available on the BASC website.