The illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland has been a significant conservation issue for many decades. Since 1994, RSPB Scotland has published a series of annual reports, documenting incidents of raptor persecution, detailing any resultant prosecutions and highlighting scientific research showing the impact these incidents have had on species’ populations and abundance. These reports have also highlighted trends in the methods of persecution, illustrated the issues with a number of case studies, and made recommendations as to how such crimes should be addressed by the relevant authorities.
This latest report presents a review of the period since that first account was published, and includes a summary of known 2013 and 2014 incidents. The report documents 779 known confirmed victims of raptor persecution since 1994 and analyse the cumulative effect of these crimes on our bird of prey populations, not just considering those victims that were found, but those that were not.
The report discusses developments of the legislation designed to protect our birds of prey, but suggests that a combination of the very low probability of an offence being detected; an enforcement regime that has been patchy and variable; and the modest penalties imposed following the most successful prosecutions, have only had a minimal effect in deterring those criminals who wish to deliberately harm protected species and given them the confidence to continue with these crimes.
Publication date: December 17, 2015