LANDOWNERS CALL FOR ACTION TO END POISONING OF BIRDS OF PREY
Big estates join battle to protect rare birds
Press and Journal By Neil MacPhail, Published: 21/05/2010
Prominent Scottish landowners have united to condemn any person who illegally poisons birds of prey or other protected species.
In an unprecedented move, over 200 signed a letter to Environment Minister Rose-anna Cunningham calling for the “full weight of the law” to be brought to bear on those who illegally kill raptors.
The move comes after the remains of three golden eagles, a buzzard and a sparrowhawk were found during the first week of May on or near the grounds of Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, Sutherland. Police are investigating if poisoning was involved.
The letter states: “It is widely recognised that wildlife management is a complex business that continually throws up new challenges, but nothing can justify illegal activity. It is for us a straightforward decision to underline our view of illegal poisoning. Frankly, we condemn it out of hand and it has to stop.
“Those of us who live and work in the Scottish countryside are appalled by such behaviour. The only thing that is achieved by such acts is the undermining of the excellent work that is done day in, day out on Scottish estates by owners, land managers and gamekeepers in terms of animal welfare and conservation of Scotland’s natural heritage.
“The message must go out to the people who indulge in such criminal behaviour that what they do is totally unacceptable to the overwhelming majority who have the true interests of the countryside at heart.
“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that message is conveyed across the land management sector. We do not presume guilt nor refer to any particular incident, but the apparent deliberate poisoning of protected species in recent years has left us utterly dismayed.
“We also support the full weight of the law being brought to bear on those who are involved in illegal poisoning and endorse the efforts of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime, in which our representative organisations are active and enthusiastic participants.”
The estates said that while wildlife crime had been repeatedly deplored by land management and rural organisations, efforts to eradicate illegal poisoning would be strengthened by individual owners and estates stating their position clearly.
More estates are expected to declare their support in the coming weeks. Signatories include the Duke of Westminster of Reay Forest Estate, Charles Wolridge-Gordon of Esslemont Estate, Ellon, the Earl of Seafield, of Seafield and Strathspey, Lord Aberdeen, of Haddo Estate, the Duke of Argyll and the Duke of Roxburghe, Kelso.