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Red kite volunteer Andrea urges Government to take action over bird of prey persecution after thousands sign petition

Last modified: 21 August 2014

Red kite

Image: Chris Gomersall

RSPB volunteer Andrea Goddard has handed over a petition to Scottish Government minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP demanding greater action over wildlife crime.

Mrs Goddard, a volunteer at RSPB Scotland’s Tollie Red Kites visitor centre in Ross-shire, was so outraged by the killing of 16 red kites and 6 buzzards earlier this year that she set up an online petition which has attracted support from 6,900 people.

Mrs Goddard’s petition asks the government to extend the investigative authority of SSPCA inspectors, providing them with greater powers to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.

She said, " I would like to think that the terrible deaths of 16 red kites and 6 buzzards weren’t totally in vain and that if we can effect real and lasting changes on the back of this awful incident then their Highland cousins can be better protected for future generations to enjoy. The Black Isle poisoning incident is an example of how ineffective and inadequate the current system of wildlife crime investigation is, and that changes in the law are needed to ensure these types of criminals are brought to justice in future."

Supporting Mrs Goddard was RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations Ian Thomson. He said, “It has been a fantastic effort by Andrea to gather so many names for her petition. This is yet another indication that the public have lost patience with regard to the ongoing persecution of our protected birds of prey, and are increasingly concerned over both the lack of prosecutions for these offences and the disappointing penalties given to those few who are convicted. While we welcome the Scottish Government’s ongoing examination of the sentences given to convicted wildlife criminals, RSPB Scotland also strongly supports an extension to the powers of Scottish SPCA inspectors that would add capacity to the following-up of reports of illegal traps or dead birds and animals, and not just those actually reported as “suffering”. This role is currently only undertaken by the police whose resources are over-stretched.

“We are sure that all those who wish to see an increase in the detection and conviction rate for those involved in crimes such as raptor persecution will welcome the chance to see the free, experienced and well-equipped resource offered by 60 Scottish SPCA inspectors added to the ongoing fight against the systematic killing of some of our rarest species. In any given investigation, the Crown Office would, of course, remain as the independent arbiter in deciding if there is sufficient evidence to merit a prosecution.”

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