Police investigate shooting of tawny owl in East Lothian

24 December 2014

A police investigation has been launched after a tawny owl was shot dead in East Lothian. The bird was found on the B6355 road, south of Gifford. It is believed to have been shot on the evening of 18th December. Details here.

Landmark conviction in first vicarious liability prosecution for raptor persecution

23 December 2014

Thefirst ever conviction under the three-year-old vicarious liability legislation has been achieved today at Stranraer Sheriff Court. Ninian Robert Hathorn Johnston Stewart, the landowner of the Physgill and Glasserton Estates, pled guilty to being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who was convicted of poisoning a buzzard and possessing three banned pesticides in 2013. The landowner was fined £675. Whilst the penalty is derisory, the Scottish Raptor Study Group welcomes this landmark conviction and congratulates the Crown Office and everyone else involved in bringing this case to court. Further details here.

Balmoral’s nature award dismissed as a PR stunt

The Queen’s estate at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire has won a nature award from landowners despite the fact that its natural woodland, heaths and bogs have been officially condemned as being in a poor state. Environment and land rights campaigners have slammed the award as a “meaningless public relations stunt” Full story here.

Scottish gamekeeper George Mutch found guilty of appalling raptor persecution crimes on Aberdeenshire sporting estate

11 December 2014

A Scottish gamekeeper has been convicted on four charges of wildlife crime, including the killing of a goshawk which had been trapped and then clubbed to death. George Mutch, a gamekeeper on the Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire, committed his crimes in August and September 2012. He was filmed by cameras deployed by RSPB Scotland as part of a research project into the use of crow cage traps. Mutch had denied the charges, which led to a long-running prosecution case which finally concluded today with his conviction. He will be sentenced in January. He has apparently been expelled from the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. More details of this case and a link to the video footage here.

New venue for 2015 Scottish Birdfair

7 December 2014

The 2015 Scottish Birdfair, organised by RSPB Scotland, will be held at a new location: Levenhall Links, Musselburgh on 23-24 May 2015. For the last three years, the event was held at the controversial Hopetoun House, which has links with the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire – an estate with an appalling track record for raptor conservation. The Scottish Raptor Study Group welcomes the move to Levenhall Links.

Rural Affairs Committee writes to Environment Minister about continuing concerns over wildlife crime

5 December 2014

The Scottish Parliament’s cross party Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee recently heard evidence on the Government’s annual Wildlife Crime Report and the Committee has written to the Environment Minister about their on-going concerns. Particular concerns include the issue of under-reporting, detection and prosecution. The Committee’s letter can be read here.