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Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill: a summary

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill began the process of being debated in Parliament at the end of May 2023. The proposed Bill is in two main parts; Part 1 deals with wildlife management, and would seek to introduce four changes to the law, which includes:

  1. Prohibiting the use or purchase of a glue trap that could be used to catch an animal (excluding invertebrates).
  2. Introduces a licensing scheme to use specific traps to catch wild birds and animals, (operators will need to complete an approved training course).
  3. Introduces a licensing scheme for killing certain birds (initially only red grouse), the landowner will need to have a licence to allow hunting on their land, and must adhere to a land management code of practice.
  4. Regulations that would give new powers to SSPCA inspectors, to gather evidence around certain wildlife crime offences.

Part 2 changes the regulation of muirburn. Land managers will need a licence to undertake muirburn at any point in the year, and the Bill proposes to further restrict muirburn in areas of designated peatland with a minimum depth of 40cm.

Read our comments on the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill in this article written for the Farming Scotland Magazine.

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill is currently at Stage 1. Evidence sessions concluded on the 28 June, and a summary of these sessions can be found below: 

  • The Scottish Government Bill Team gave evidence to the Rural Affairs and Islands (RAI) Committee at the first of four sessions that took place in June. A summary of the key points can be found here.
  • On Wednesday 14 June, the RAI Committee met to hear the second of four evidence sessions for the Bill, attended by members of the Werrity Committee, and stakeholder organisations. The main points taken from the meeting can be viewed here.
  • The third and penultimate evidence session took place on Wednesday 21 June and the RAI Committee heard from organisations including the Scottish Land and Estates and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The session also had the benefit of hearing from Detective Sergeant David Lynn from Police Scotland and Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Bruce Farquharson from The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. You can read our summary of this session here.
  • The final evidence session took place on Wednesday 28 June for Stage 1 of the Bill. Gillian Martin, Minister for Energy and the Environment, attended the evidence session with the Scottish Government Bill Team. They fielded questions from RAI Committee members on areas of the bill including raptor persecution and links to grouse moors, licensing fees, licence duration, and granting additional powers for the SSPCA. You can read our summary of this session here.

As this Bill progresses through three stages over the course of 2023, with Stage 1 being completed by 6 October, we will continue to present evidence where others present opinion. We will continue to work with policy makers and try to educate where necessary. We will try to ensure that those creating and shaping legislation do so being fully informed and we will do this in conjunction with our rural partner organisations.

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