Wildlife crime in Scotland: 2017 annual report

The sixth wildlife crime annual report, with new data from the financial year 2016 to 2017.

7. Scottish Government

This section sets out details of specific projects carried out by or on behalf of the Scottish Government over the time period of this report.

Recommendations to improve snaring practices

Further refinements to snaring practices were proposed following a SNH report that found snaring related incidents have reduced. They will mostly be delivered through the Snaring Code of Practice, including:

  • Implement a time period for updating snare records and reduce the time allowed for producing records to the Police
  • Introduce the power of disqualification for a snaring offence
  • Changes to fox snares including enlarging the noose size to 26cm and increase the number of swivels to a minimum of two
  • Consider how a strengthened Code of Practice can be better endorsed through legislation

Review of Satellite Tagging Data

Following reports of missing satellite-tagged raptors in 2016, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform announced a review of satellite tracking data to find out more about the pattern of disappearances of satellite tagged birds of prey and whether there are any patterns of suspicious activity. The research contract was managed by SNH and the report published in May 2017 as SNH Commissioned Report 982, providing a major review of the movements and fates of golden eagles satellite tagged during 2004-2016.

Grouse Moor Management Group

The Grouse Moor Management Group was established in November 2017 in response to SNH research that found almost a third of golden eagles being tracked by satellite died in suspicious circumstances and that the majority of cases were where land is intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.

The group will look at the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices such as Muirburn, the use of medicated grit and mountain hare culls and advise on the option of licensing grouse shooting businesses. The Group will consider other topics relevant to grouse moor management, referred to it by Government, or raised by the Chair.

Consultation on improving the protection of wild mammals

Following a review of the operation of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, undertaken by the Rt Hon Lord Bonomy in 2016, a consultation on protecting wild mammals in Scotland was announced in October 2017. It looked to explore recommendations to improve animal welfare legislation.

Programme for Government 2017-18

Commitments to tackle wildlife crime were set out in the Programme for Government (PfG), published on 5 September 2017.

Protecting our flora and fauna

Wildlife and plant species must also be protected as key natural resources. We will:

  • Take forward proposals with Police Scotland for new resources to tackle wildlife crime
  • Establish an independent group to consider how to ensure that the management of grouse moors is environmentally sustainable and compliant with the law
  • Commission work in relation to protecting gamekeepers’ employment and other rights
  • Commission a research project to examine the impact of large shooting estates on Scotland’s economy and biodiversity
  • Establish an independent group to advise on effective and sustainable deer management
  • We will also progress Lord Bonomy’s recommendations to strengthen the law on foxhunting and Professor Poustie’s recommendations to increase penalties for wildlife crime


Email: Hugh Dignon

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