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Scottish Countryside Alliance respond to Telegraph article on bird culls

In response to the Telegraph article 'Scottish Natural Heritage accused of 'reaching for the shotgun' by allowing too many bird culls' (27/07/18) please find below a statement from Scottish Countryside Alliance Director, Jamie Stewart:

Like so many of our contemporaries the Scottish Countryside Alliance supported the decision of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in the granting of a five-year research licence for the control of ravens. While we did expect a backlash from bird charities and those opposed to any form of wildlife control, we never expect to hear the issue of deaths threat; but with ill-informed MSPs making wide sweeping generalisations over the issue of licencing the control of wild life, I guess anything is possible.

If Claudia Beamish, Labour spokesperson had taken the time to review Scottish legislation, she would have discovered that all wild birds and many wild mammals are protected by law, with some given stronger protection. Under normal circumstances killing a protected species would constitute an offence. However, licences can be issued under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to control protected species for specific purposes.

Licences can be sought for the purpose of "conserving wild birds". In order for a licence to be issued the licensing authority must satisfy itself that; (a) a licence is necessary for the stated purpose, (b) there is no satisfactory alternative, and (c) evidence supporting the application would stand up to scientific scrutiny. Therefore, in order to issue such a licence, SNH would need to be satisfied that a cause and effect link exists between, for instance, predation and significant declines in the population or distribution of other species.

One of the main voices of dissent for the issue of the recent research licence MS Beamish mentions came from the RSPB, which offered the following bizarre view on the issue:

"any help they [curlew] are given to arrest their decline, especially where it might involve the lethal control of other predatory species, needs to be founded on an extremely robust evidence base before such intervention is considered."

A strange and hypocritical statement for a charity that partakes in the lethal control of thousands of birds and mammals annually, many under licence from SNH. Perhaps Ms Beamish might initiate an FOI to determine comparable levels.

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