The Scottish Government’s long-awaited review of the systems used to regulate gamebird hunting in other European countries is due to be published ‘shortly’.
This review was first commissioned two and a half years ago by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, during a parliamentary debate on wildlife crime / raptor persecution, way back in May 2014 (see here).
Seventeen months later in December 2015, Claudia Beamish MSP lodged a parliamentary question about the lack of progress:
Question S4W-28992 (date lodged: 16/12/15):
To ask the Scottish Government when it will carry out the review of gamebird licensing and legislation agreed by Paul Wheelhouse in May 2014; who has been appointed to conduct the review, and when it expects the report to be published.
Answered by Aileen McLeod MSP (the then Environment Minister) 11/1/2016:
Tender documents were issued by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on 11 December 2015, inviting bids from contractors to carry out the review of gamebird licensing and legislation in other European countries. The deadline for quotes to be submitted to SNH is 20 January 2016. We expect work on the review to commence in early 2016 and for the report to be published in autumn 2016.
Nothing appeared in the public domain so in August 2016 Claudia Beamish MSP submitted another parliamentary question:
Question S5W-02043 (date lodged: 18/8/16):
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4W-28992 by Aileen McLeod on 11 January 2016, on what date the gamebird licensing and legislation report will be published.
Answered by Roseanna Cunningham MSP (current Cabinet Secretary on Environment) 25/8/16:
Further to the answer to question S4W-28992 by Aileen McLeod on 11 January 2016, the review of gamebird licensing and legislation is currently being finalised and will be published in Autumn 2016.
Still nothing, so in October Mark Ruskell MSP lodged a parliamentary question:
Question S5W-04342 (date lodged 31/10/16):
To ask the Scottish Government when the Scottish Natural Heritage review of gamebird licensing systems in other European countries will be published.
Answered by Roseanna Cunningham MSP (Cabinet Secretary on Environment) 8/11/16:
The Scottish Government commissioned Scottish Natural Heritage to carry out a review of gamebird hunting in selected other countries. This is currently being finalised for submission to Scottish Ministers and we anticipate that it will be published shortly.
It is our understanding that the authors of this report submitted their findings to SNH six months ago, in May 2016. According to the parliamentary answers above, the report was being ‘finalised’ in August and was still being ‘finalised’ in November! Let’s hope that whatever ‘finalisations’ are being done (whatever that means), they are done quickly.
There is great anticipation amongst conservationists to see this report published. The findings are expected to demonstrate just how poorly regulated gamebird hunting is in Scotland in comparison to the more progressive policies implemented in other European countries. If that is what the report’s findings show, this will add considerable pressure on the Scottish Government to introduce a licensing scheme. This report, combined with the review on satellite tagged raptor data (due to be completed in March 2017) should make for a very interesting Spring period.