SLE statement on RSPB Bird Crime publication

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Following publication today of the RSPB ‘Bird Crime’ report, Scottish Land & Estates – whose membership includes sporting estates across Scotland – issued the following statement.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Significant progress has been made in tackling unacceptable raptor persecution over the last decade and according to government statistics, incidents are now at an all-time low. We, along with our members, wholeheartedly condemn all incidents of crime against birds of prey.

“We expect the Scottish Government to publish its next wildlife crime report imminently and this provides the most authoritative and reliable data as it uses official figures collated from police and the prosecuting authorities.

“Despite compelling evidence over number of years now demonstrating a major decline in raptor persecution incidents, RSPB Scotland refuses to recognise progress and uses their own statistics to pursue their goal of restricting grouse shooting regardless of the environmental, economic and social benefits it brings to Scotland.

“For example, RSPB have used their publication to highlight specific cases such as Fred, a golden eagle whose tag stopped transmitting last year. However, no criminality has even been established - the case remains shrouded in mystery and question marks remain over when satellite tag data controlled by anti-grouse moor activists was actually provided to Police Scotland.

“The call for transparency, not secrecy, made by RSPB in this document accords with Scottish Land & Estates’ long-standing call for an urgent change to the process for satellite tagging of raptors and how the resulting data is controlled. In this regard, we support the recent parliamentary petition lodged by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and see no reason why openness and transparency should not be applied to the monitoring of birds.

“In this publication, RSPB describe grouse moors as an ‘industry that relies on criminal practices’. No rational stakeholder or agency would countenance such an extreme view and it reveals a frantic attempt to influence the Scottish Government’s independent review of grouse moor management which is due to report shortly.

“Further legislation, as demanded by anti-grouse moor campaigners, is not required on a sector which adheres to best practice and substantial regulation.”