Scottish Land & Estates condemns absolutely the illegal killing of these red kites last year and any other birds of prey. We are committed to working with Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and our partners in PAWS to eradicate the remaining vestiges of wildlife crime in Scotland and at the same time to develop positive projects that build understanding and knowledge and are good for bird of prey conservation. Projects such as the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, the Heads Up for Harriers project and Wildlife Estates Scotland being just three examples.
Suggestions that sporting estates and landowning interests are responsible is premature and not supported by any evidence we have seen. Indeed it was landowners and farmers in the Black Isle area who last year got together in their outrage at the mass killing of red kites and put up a substantial reward of £14,000 from 24 people for information that leads to the successful prosecution of the perpetrators of this crime. This reward is still open as is the police investigation we understand.
Our commitment above is resolute; however it is also imperative that general accusations and finger pointing at the sporting estate and shooting sector community without evidence are not allowed to go unchallenged. Such unfounded assertions smear a whole section of society unfairly. Whoever committed these crimes needs to be brought to justice, we are all agreed on that, but as we have said repeatedly in the past, this should be on the basis of sound evidence and due police investigation and judicial process, not by general slurs and accusations. Such actions just alienate possible allies and perpetuate division and conflict.
We are also concerned that we heard about this first from the RSPB, not from official sources and many months after the actual incident. This is something we will be raising at the next PAWS Executive meeting. It is also regrettable that the RSPB neglected to mention in their media release that another breeding female has arrived at the Cawdor Castle nest they refer to and has fledged three chicks. Something we understand all locally are delighted about.”