Scottish Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, has today made clear her intention to address the on-going problem of illegal raptor persecution.
Speaking to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee as they continue to discuss Stage 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill (WaNE), she said she intends to bring in an ammendment to Stage 2 of the discussion that would create a new ‘vicarious liability’ offence that would target those who control or manage others who are involved in criminal raptor persecution.
“Increased awareness and condemnation appears to be doing little to bring down the number of illegal bird poisonings in Scotland. Official figures show that 16 birds of prey were poisoned in the first six months of this year and I find this extremely disappointing.
We have robust legislation in place to tackle this sort of crime but tougher action has to be taken to deter those who think that they can get away with persecuting our wildlife.
I don’t want to unfairly target any particular group and I will be engaging with stakeholders over the coming weeks to make sure that they know what we are trying to achieve with this amendment.
We have a duty to protect our birds of prey as they are an integral part of our national identity. They also help our economy by attracting tourists from across the world and we cannot afford to have our international reputation tarnished by the few who continue to target them illegally.”
Roseanna Cunningham deserves recognition for making this move. Many conservation groups have lobbied for the introduction of vicarious liability for several years, but many of the gamekeeping and landowning groups have vehemently opposed it (hmm, I wonder why?), and especially Sheriff Drummond, who was quite entertaining when he recently presented his views against introducing it at the WaNE bill committee meeting in Holyrood.
It’s still not a certainty that the ammendment will be accepted, but at least it’s on the table.
Well done, Roseanna Cunningham.
Government press release here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2010/11/03110045
However, before we all get carried away…there are disturbing reports circulating about the failure to investigate the two poisoned eagles (one golden eagle and one sea eagle) that were found on an estate near Inverness in June (see blog report Oct 13). More on these reports shortly…