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PAW Scotland news

Police appeal for information after hen harrier shot dead

16 May 2017

Police Scotland are investigating the death of a female hen harrier near Leadhills in South Lanarkshire. According to several witnesses, a man on a quad bike is thought to have shot the endangered bird close to the B7040 at Elvanfoot at about 17:15 on 4 May. He then drove away before Police arrived.

Sgt Craig Smith said: "Police Scotland is committed to tackling wildlife crime and reducing the number of crimes against our iconic birds of prey.

"We will continue to work with partners and the public to protect Scotland's wildlife.

"At this time I am asking for anyone who witnessed a man on a quad bike between Elvanfoot and Leadhills on the evening of Thursday 4 May to please contact police. You may hold valuable information which could assist our inquiry."

Anyone with information which may be of assistance should contact Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be reported anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Report any suspicions of wildlife crime to the Police

11 April 2017

Through social media we recently had our attention drawn to an incident involving an eagle owl tethered to a post, and a suspicion that someone might be using this to attract and then kill potential predators. This incident was not reported to the Police, but should have been. Instead, there was a lot of social media commentary regarding the incident reported on a website.

We urge people to report such incidents to the Police, who can judge if a crime has been committed. In this case, Police Scotland are making investigations, but direct information is vital. Please report any such incidents to the Police, and do so before making any public comment.

  • Suspected crimes can be reported to Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101
  • In an emergency, if a crime is in progress or a suspect is still on the scene, please dial 999
  • Information can be reported anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
  • If a live animal or bird is injured or in distress, please contact the SSPCA on 03000 999 999


Public urged to avoid birds’ nests during gardening and building work

5 April 2017Housemartin nest. © Scottish Natural Heritage

As birds begin to nest this spring, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and PAW Scotland are reminding the public to be aware that birds are vulnerable at this time of year and destroying or damaging a nest while it’s in use is illegal and could result in a penalty.

Every year, birds’ nests are destroyed by people felling or pruning trees and scrub or doing building work. Other common examples are blocking entry holes to swift and starling nests located in houses, house martin nests being damaged under the eaves of houses, and bird nests being damaged while sites are being cleared for development. As well as these risks to wildlife, dogs which aren’t under control may disturb ground nesting birds.

Read the full SNH press release...


20 years of Operation EASTER - stopping egg thieves and egg collectors

4 April 2017

Wild birds are nesting and the national campaign to protect them is underway. Egg thieves will go to any lengths to raid the nests of rare species but Operation EASTER is determined to stop them in their tracks.

Operation EASTER was developed in Scotland 20 years ago.  The operation is now facilitated by the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in conjunction with UK police forces and partner agencies.  The operation targets egg thieves by sharing intelligence across the UK to support enforcement action.

Read the full NWCU press release...


Appeal for information on missing satellite-tagged golden eagle

1 April 2017

RSPB Scotland has today issued an appeal for information following the disappearance of a satellite tagged golden eagle near Strathdon in Aberdeenshire.

The young male eagle was fitted with a transmitter by a licensed raptor study group member, before it fledged from a nest in Deeside in the summer of 2016. Data received from the tag allowed conservationists to study the movements of the bird, known as “338”, as it explored north-east Scotland’s countryside.

The last transmission was sent on the evening of 5 March 2017, after which no further data was received. A follow-up search of the area by police and RSPB staff could not locate the bird or the satellite transmitter.

Anyone with any information regarding this eagle is advised to call Police Scotland on 101 as soon as possible. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crimestoppers.

A review of satellite tracking data commissioned by the Scottish Government is expected to be published soon.

Read the full RSPB Scotland press release...

Read the Scottish Land & Estates response...


SNH comments on general licence legal decision

29 March 2017

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has welcomed a senior judge’s decision to uphold a decision by SNH to restrict the use of General Licences on land in the Scottish Borders where evidence of wildlife crimes had been found.

The decision had been challenged under Judicial Review by the affected landowners. However, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh Lord Armstrong threw out the case subject to a small change in the boundary of the restriction area.

Read the full SNH press release...


Bird of prey crime maps & NWCU funding confirmedBird of Prey Crime Hotspot Maps 2016 thumbnail

26% drop in recorded offences during 2016

27 March 2017

There was a 26% fall in recorded bird of prey crimes during 2016, according to the latest information.

Crime maps produced by PAW Scotland show 14 confirmed bird of prey crimes compared to 19 the previous year.

Species illegally killed in 2016 incidents included buzzards and a goshawk, while the golden eagle and osprey were victims in disturbance cases. There were four recorded incidents of poisoning, four shootings, three cases of disturbance and three trapping or attempted trapping offences.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham also confirmed a further year's funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, based in Stirling.

Read the full Scottish Government press release...

View the hotspot maps and background data...


Public asked for sightings of rare hen harriersHen Harrier thumbnail. Copyright Laurie Campbell www.lauriecampbell.com

8 March 2017

After a successful call for hen harrier sightings last year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Heads Up for Harriers project are once more asking people to report sightings of this special bird.

Hen harriers remain one of Scotland’s rarest and most spectacular birds of prey.

The Heads Up for Harriers Project wants to hear from anyone who is lucky enough to see these birds. The project is led by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW) Scotland and encourages people to report sightings, as well as trialling nest and roost cameras, and encouraging land managers to retain hen harrier-friendly habitat.

PAW Scotland has also published a new map showing the approximate locations of hen harrier sightings reported to the project during the 2016 season (April to August).

Read the full SNH press release...

View the April-August 2016 hen harrier sightings map...


SNH report on game bird hunting published

25 February 2017

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published a report comparing the game bird hunting regulations in other European countries.

This report reviews regulations on game bird hunting in 14 European countries. It focuses specifically on the legal controls on game bird hunting, including licensing and permitting arrangements, as well as on the requirements for monitoring, protecting and managing game birds.

Read the full SNH press release...

Read the full report...


Rare habitats being damaged by off-road Loch Fleet SSSI - Vehicle damage to sand dunevehicles

7 February 2017

Some of Scotland’s rarest habitats are being damaged as a result of illegal access by off road vehicles, warn Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Police Scotland.

Sites at Loch Fleet near Golspie and Ben Wyvis, north of Dingwall, are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, recognising their important sand dune and mountain habitats, as well as the wealth of wildlife that they support. They are also designated as National Nature Reserves (NNRs).

Read the full SNH press release...


Wildlife Crime in Scotland - 2015 Annual Report

25 November 2016

Recorded wildlife crime rose by 11 per cent in the period 2014-15, according to a report published today.

Latest figures show there were 284 recorded wildlife crime offences in Scotland in 2014-15, compared to 255 in 2013-14. The report also shows however that over the 5 year period between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the overall numbers of recorded crimes have fallen from 355 to 284, a drop of 20%.

Read the Scottish Government press release

Read the full report


PAW Scotland Statement

1 September 2016

The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland is calling for a cool-headed discussion about the disappearance of birds of prey in the Scottish highlands.

The call comes following unsubstantiated claims by a gamekeeper who believes ‘bird activists’ might be to blame. Louise Batchelor, a spokesperson for PAW Scotland, says that there appeared to be no evidence to back the claims. There were reports that the gamekeeper said: “I certainly would imagine that there would be a few activists who would take a chance of doing something and I wouldn’t put it past them.’’ 

Reports also said that some pressure groups had called for grouse shooting to be outlawed and they reported the gamekeeper as saying that call ‘might give activists a motive for sacrificing a few birds of prey’. Louise Batchelor said: “The idea that ‘bird activists’ were responsible for the disappearance of golden eagles and hen harriers as part of some conspiracy theory, to smear gamekeepers, is ridiculous. This kind of claim, made without foundation, cannot go unchallenged and PAW Scotland will continue to take the lead in any serious debate about what is happening to Scotland’s birds of prey. ”

It’s understood that the gamekeeper behind the claims does not belong to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who are members of PAW Scotland. A spokesman for the SGA said: “As has always been the case since these reports have emerged, our sole focus is the investigation.  The SGA will do anything we can to assist Police Scotland and the Scottish Government in their investigations and we do not comment on the opinion of private individuals.”


Satellite tagged hen harrier missing in MonadhliathsHen Harrier chick - Elwood - in nest

18 August 2016

RSPB Scotland has today announced that a young male hen harrier, fitted with a satellite transmitter as part of the charity’s part EU funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, has gone missing on a grouse moor in the Monadhliath Mountains, south-east of Inverness.

The bird, named Elwood, was the only chick to fledge from a nest in Banffshire, which was being monitored under the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland "Heads-up for Harriers" scheme.

This news follows reports last week that eight satellite tagged golden eagles had gone missing in the same area over the past five years. Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham has ordered a review of raptor satellite tracking data.

Commenting on the latest RSPB press release, the Cabinet Secretary, who is also the Chair of PAW Scotland, said:

“The news that a juvenile hen harrier has disappeared in the Monadhliaths, complete with its satellite tag, only weeks after it fledged, strengthens my determination to get to the truth about how, where and why raptors with functioning satellite tags seem to be regularly disappearing. I have asked for a review of all the evidence and I intend to ensure that data from hen harriers and red kites, as well as data from golden eagles will be considered as part of this. We are continuing to collect evidence in relation to raptors in Scotland, which will be a significant factor in deciding the next steps for tackling wildlife crime.”

(Photo of hen harrier chick Elwood in nest, courtesy of RSPB Scotland)