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RSPB Scotland welcomes General Licence restrictions in areas of confirmed wildlife crime

Last modified: 04 November 2015

Profile of golden eagle

Image: Bill Paton

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has restricted the use of General Licences on four properties in Scotland this week where they believe there is sufficient evidence of crimes against birds of prey in recent years.

In response, Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said: “We welcome the continued commitment of the Minister and Scottish Government to tackling wildlife crime, and this is confirmation that the Open General Licence will be removed from land where Scottish Natural Heritage is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of crimes against birds of prey in recent years. The use of the Open General Licence to control what are considered by some to be “pest species” of bird, including crows and magpies, for conservation and other legal purposes, is a privilege and not a right. This activity is undertaken as derogation from the provision under the European Union Birds Directive, which affords protection to all native bird species, so it is right that the highest standards are met.


“The removal of the Open General Licence is an important part of the toolkit available to the public authorities to act as a meaningful deterrent to the serious problem of the illegal killing of birds of prey in parts of Scotland, and underpinned by what is now a clear body of evidence confirming the scale and detrimental impact of these crimes on the populations of bird species including the golden eagle, hen harrier and red kite. This wider toolkit for combating wildlife crime also includes the prosecution of landowners for vicarious liability for the actions of their employees in cases of confirmed crimes against birds of prey unless they have taken steps of due diligence to prevent this activity from occurring”.

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