Scottish Land & Estates statement on recent bird of prey incidents

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Press Release

Scottish Land & Estates said today that it has written to the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland raising its concern over recent incidents involving birds of prey.

In May 2019, a hen harrier was found dead in an illegally set trap on the border between two estates in Perthshire. This was followed by extensive publicity regarding two golden eagles whose tags had stopped transmitting in April near Dunkeld.

In recent days, SLE has been contacted by estates in South Lanarkshire following the discovery of a dead hen harrier. There has been no commercial grouse shooting on this ground for more than two years and there have been several successful hen harrier nests on one of the estates.

SLE said each of the estates involved were steadfast in their condemnation of wildlife crime and were dismayed by the handling of recent events by anti-grouse moor activists who were in control of satellite tag data.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Recent weeks have seen a series of cases where birds of prey have gone missing or been found dead in inexplicable circumstances.

“The hen harrier found dead in a trap in Perthshire followed by the recent golden eagles case have attracted widespread attention but also highlighted that partnership working between wildlife and land management interests is not functioning well.

“In recent days, we have been contacted by one of our members, Buccleuch, where a hen harrier has been discovered dead in suspicious circumstances on one of their estates, Queensberry. This estate has hosted several successful hen harrier nests in recent years.

“We have also just been informed of legal traps on the neighbouring Leadhills estate being vandalised and this has been reported to the police. Neither this area of Queensberry, nor Leadhills, have had commercial grouse shooting on their land over the last two years.

“In this latest incident, it is unclear at this stage what the next steps will be and the estates have asked us to contact the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland to ensure there is as much transparency as possible.

“Our members, across all these incidents, wish to reiterate their condemnation of all forms of wildlife crime and crime against birds of prey. Collectively, they have asked us to convey to PAWS that they are ready to help with any further inquiries that may be made around these events.”