‘How many licences have been issued to kill ravens?’ This was one of a series of raven-killing questions asked recently of the Scottish Government by Alison Johnstone MSP (Lothian, Scottish Green Party).
Here’s the full suite of her written questions lodged on 18th September 2012:
S4W-09688 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government how many licences to kill ravens were granted by (a) it and (b) Scottish Natural Heritage in (i) 2011 and (ii) 2012 and what the grounds were for granting such licences, broken down by local authority.
S4W-09689 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government how many multi-annual licences to kill ravens have been granted since 2011, broken down by local authority.
S4W-09690 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what proportion of holders of licences to kill ravens indicated that they had made kills in 2011 and how many birds were killed.
S4W-09691 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government how many licences to kill ravens have not been renewed by Scottish Natural Heritage because of non-compliance with conditions in each year since 2011.
S4W-09692 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government whether Scottish Natural Heritage will publish details annually of the number of ravens killed under licence.
S4W-09693 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what factors are considered when considering granting a licence to kill ravens.
S4W-09694 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government whether there are licensing restrictions to control the killing of ravens in nests during the breeding season.
S4W-09695 Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what checks are made to ensure that livestock protection licences to kill ravens are not used for game management.
The answers provided by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse are quite interesting (see here for full script). SNH took over the responsibility of issuing licences from 1st July 2011 – previously the Scottish Government had issued them.
It’s fascinating to learn what factors are considered by SNH when considering whether to grant one of these licences. Apparently, “SNH relies on expert advice from site visits made by Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) staff to inform licensing decisions“. Interesting. I wonder how many ornithologists and/or ecologists work for SGRPID?
It’s also fascinating to learn that SNH also relies upon SGRPID to make site visit checks to ensure that livestock protection licences (which is how these raven-killing licences are defined) to kill ravens are not used for game management. Apparently if allegations were made in this respect, then SNH would rely upon the police to investigate. Perhaps that’s why, in answer to Alison’s question about how many licences to kill ravens have not been renewed by SNH (since 2011) because of non-compliance with the conditions of the licence, Mr Wheelhouse replied: “To date, no such cases have occurred“. Really?
Another interesting piece of information to emerge from these written questions and answers is the confirmation that a raven-killing licence was issued in the Scottish Borders for 2012. Now, according to our sources, a raven-killing licence was issued at Langholm this year. Hopefully more detailed information about this will appear on the Langholm project website in due course. Is this a fore-runner to the issuing of a buzzard-killing licence at Langholm? We are aware that, unofficially at least, there is great interest in ‘controlling’ buzzards at Langholm amongst some of the project partners. Thankfully, so far, there has also been strong opposition to this move by some of the other project partners. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out which partners are for and which are against.
Finally, Mr Wheelhouse assures us that “SNH is considering how to publish statistics [of the annual number of ravens killed under licence] in the future“.
Well done Alison Johnstone MSP for asking some probing questions.