06
May
14

Debate in Scottish Parliament today: eradicating raptor persecution from Scotland

ScottishParliamentChamberA debate will be held in Chamber today under the heading: Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland.

The debate will be shown live on Holyrood TV (link below) and for those who can’t watch it live, we’ll add the video archive in due course.

The debate stems from a Parliamentary Motion submitted by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse last week:

Motion S4M-09916: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014

Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland

That the Parliament recognises the impact of wildlife crime in Scotland and the potential strain that this places on Scotland’s reputation; welcomes the Scottish Government’s determination to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland; supports the work of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime; welcomes the introduction of vicarious liability in wildlife crime in 2011 and the announcement in July 2013 of the review of wildlife crime penalties, the introduction of restrictions on general licences and the enforcement work being taken forward by Police Scotland; unreservedly condemns the appalling poisoning incident in Ross-shire that has killed at least 20 red kites and buzzards; recognises that these birds are a critical part of Scotland’s biodiversity and a key element in the growing wildlife tourism sector; expresses concern about the very worrying disappearance of the first sea eagle chick born from the reintroduced sea eagles on the east coast; considers that an update on the fight against wildlife crime is now timely, and welcomes agencies redoubling efforts to work together to protect Scotland’s remarkable wildlife.

The Presiding Officer has accepted the following amendment to this motion from Claire Baker MSP, who is smart enough to recognise that congratulatory back-slapping isn’t enough and that more action needs to be taken:

Motion S4M-09916.3: Claire Baker, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014

Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland

As an amendment to motion S4M-09916 in the name of Paul Wheelhouse (Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland), leave out from first “welcomes” to “Police Scotland” and insert “believes that the commitment to tackle wildlife crime is shared across the Parliament; acknowledges the work undertaken by the Scottish Government and its relevant bodies and partners in working to tackle wildlife crime, including the review of wildlife crime penalties and the consultation for increased powers for the Scottish SPCA; however believes that the latest wildlife crimes show the urgent need for further action in Scotland; calls on the Scottish Government to conduct a study of licensing and game bird legislation in other countries with a view to working with other parties to review wildlife crime legislation in Scotland”.

There were two other amendments lodged. One came from Liam McArthur MSP calling for more measures to enable a robust pursuit of raptor-killing criminals:

Motion S4M-09916.2: Liam McArthur, Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014

Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland

As an amendment to motion S4M-09916 in the name of Paul Wheelhouse (Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland), insert at end “, and believes that Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service should work to ensure that this increased effort will lead to more resources for wildlife crime officers and specialist prosecutors to allow for cases of raptor persecution to be more robustly pursued“.

The second amendment was much more bizarre and came from Jamie McGrigor MSP, a long-time supporter of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association:

Motion S4M-09916.1: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014

Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland

As an amendment to motion S4M-09916 in the name of Paul Wheelhouse (Wildlife Crime, Eradicating Raptor Persecution from Scotland), insert at end “, and further welcomes the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s conservation project, the Year of the Wader, and NFU Scotland’s recently published Sea Eagle Action Plan“.

It’s not clear to us how either of these items are relevant to a debate on eradicating raptor persecution in Scotland.

To watch today’s live debate on Holyrood TV click here. [Session opens at 2pm but there are a number of items to get through before the wildlife crime debate begins].

UPDATE 23:00hrs: Click here to read our comments about today’s debate and to find the link to the archive footage.

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11 Responses to “Debate in Scottish Parliament today: eradicating raptor persecution from Scotland”


  1. 1 Marco McGinty
    May 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I have to agree that the amendment by Jamie McGrigor has no relevance whatsoever in a motion centred on eradicating raptor persecution, but it does follow the nonsense issued by Jackson Carlaw a few weeks ago. We can’t expect anything else from Tory scum.

    • May 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      I can’t say I’m impressed with many (any?) politicians but remind me. When was the last time the Tories had a majority and controlled things in the Scottish Parliament? Is that why the SNP, LibDems and Labour have had such difficulty getting on top of the problem?

      • 3 Marco McGinty
        May 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm

        Quite why the other main parties have proved totally ineffective in trying to clamp down on the problem is anyone’s guess (and a national disgrace), but the Conservative’s’ “environmental” ethos appears to have a widespread, detrimental impact on wildlife, especially predatory creatures – Buzzardgate, the Badger cull, the fox hunting issue, climate change denials. Then you have the anti-raptor approach evident in recent times – Jackson Carlaw’s infamous NAZI speech, and now this irrelevant guff from McGrigor.

        The Year of the Wader and the bigoted NFUS “report” holds as much relevance to the motion as British Mud Week, Wallace and Gromit’s Wrong Trousers Day or International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Trying to hijack a parliamentary debate with his pro-gamekeeping/pro-farming nonsense has only proved to show McGrigor’s idiocy and his sheer contempt for serious and widespread crime.

  2. 4 nirofo
    May 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    They talk a good talk, now lets wait and see if that’s all it is, TALK !!!

    • 5 Stewart Love
      May 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Not seen it as yet but can imagine what it’s says without seeing it, TALK, TALK, TALK, TALK, TALK. “”””””””””””” will watch it later, it will lull me to sleep.

  3. 6 Eileen McCann
    May 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    One of the MSP’s recommended a map showing raptor deaths – so it was clear where the blackspots were. I think this would be very good to make public. We need to keep up the pressure for convictions. And we need legislation on limiting gaming estates.

    • May 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Indeed, that was Rob Gibson. A very sensible suggestion, in our view. He wants a more detailed map of where these poisoned birds are found, with the names of local farms and estates on there, rather than the vague and non-specific maps that are currently produced.

  4. 8 merlin
    May 6, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Interesting motion but dissecting it so far.

    “supports the work of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime”

    Half of the partners in this group are still supporting criminal gamekeepers, SGA, BASC and others have already stated they will fight penalties like removal of general licenses on estates suspected of wildlife crime, whilst I understand the SGA stance on this , BASC have a duty to their law abiding members to uphold their good name. how many estates have had their licenses withheld yet?

    “welcomes the introduction of vicarious liability”
    introduced 3 years ago and still not been used.

    “the introduction of restrictions on general licences and the enforcement work being taken forward by Police Scotland”

    See above about general licenses and see recent blog 32 Eagles 8 years 0 prosecutions

    On the SGA “conservation project, the Year of the Wader” could this be considered for next year and parliament remove Woodcock, Snipe and Golden Plover from the game list, like it did with the Curlew. no point bringing measures in to preserve these species if they are still going to be shot

  5. 9 Jimmy
    May 7, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Facts are that the judiciary/police are not taking these crimes seriously enough. The wildlife criminals know this which is why the problem appears to be getting worse rather than better

    • 10 Dougie
      May 7, 2014 at 7:02 am

      Correct !

    • May 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      As devils advocate here, what are you suggesting is the reason for this lack of effort?

      Given the nature of the evidence required for prosecution it, unfortunately, seems that regardless of effort, is it likely that following up on a poisoned bird or bait is going to produce any good evidence.

      Is it time to stop looking at prosecution for these offences as feasible and change tack to the proposed licencing of grouse moors. If this was set up as conditional to there being adequate biodiversity and an absolute zero conviction rate for any wildlife crime it MIGHT just pull estates into line.


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