Landowners have reacted with optimism to an RSPB report* which suggests an 18% reduction in the illegal shooting and destruction of birds of prey across the UK between 2009 and 2010.
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of landowner membership organisation Scottish Land & Estates, which represents over 2,500 landowners in Scotland, commented:
“While this report represents the UK as a whole, with the Scotland-specific statistics having been published earlier this year, the reduced persecution figures do mark a positive step in the joint effort to combat illegal killing of raptors. Although the RSPB’s figures are based on unconfirmed reports, and we should be very careful about commenting on speculative figures rather than those evidenced, it is promising that the numbers of those reported persecution incidents are down on 2009.
“It is worth emphasising that the recent findings by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) have shown an even brighter picture emerging for 2011, with a very significant decrease of 42% in incidents for the first six months of this year. Landowners are working hard in partnership with police and other organisations to help eradicate poisoning. This requires a sustained approach over time and there is now clear evidence these joint efforts are beginning to pay off.
“The 42% drop in incidents for the first half of this year is coming at a time when birds of prey in Scotland number tens of thousands, the highest overall total for nearly 100 years. Increased awareness of the issue also means that more birds have been handed in for examination.
“Poisoning is a more complex issue than some might suggest as we can see from the fact that many more birds are killed accidentally by agricultural rodentcides than by deliberate poisoning. Scottish Land & Estates is wholly committed to dealing with this issue and the most productive way forward is for everyone to continue to work together constructively.”