Following the shocking and unacceptable deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire I have written to the Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. The raptor deaths are the latest in a long line of attacks on our iconic wildlife.
The Scottish Government are consulting on greater powers for SSPCA officers which Scottish Labour support however we believe the Government should be going further. I am calling on the Scottish Government to review wildlife crime legislation in Scotland and vicarious liability.
A copy of my letter to the Minister can be found below.
I am sure we are both appalled by the recent deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire and the number of our iconic birds that are killed every year in Scotland. The number of donations given to the RSPB as a reward for finding the culprit(s) of this latest heinous attack shows the strength of feeling amongst the general public against wildlife crime.
I have raised the issue of wildlife crime and legislation in Parliament before and whilst I appreciate that this is a difficult area to tackle it is also an area where I believe more can be done.
Whilst the number of deaths fluctuates yearly it is clear that there is a consistent trend of iconic birds being killed in Scotland. When the Scottish Government passed the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, it introduced vicarious liability and the Minister at the time, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, indicated that she would look at other options if this was not successful. Despite this there has been a distinct lack of convictions as a result of vicarious liability and it is becoming increasingly clear that the WANE act is not working as a deterrent to such wildlife crime.
In a reply to a letter from Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land and Estates, you wrote that “In the absence of any other credible explanation, I can only conclude that, despite all our efforts, there remains an element of sporting managers and owners who continue to flout the law and defy public opinion for their own selfish ends with little regards to wildlife or the reputation of their law abiding compatriots.”
With the number of deaths of the raptors in Ross-shire now increased to 19 and in light of your comments to Mr McAdam, will you now consider, alongside your plans for greater powers for SSPCA officers, to review vicarious liability and review wildlife crime legislation in Scotland?
Claire Baker MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment