'Disappointing' wildlife crime report
In light of the wildlife crime report, Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: "Like every organisation with the interests of rural Scotland at heart, we share the stated ambition of the LINK report - to eradicate wildlife crime in Scotland.
"It is, however, disappointing that in pursuit of this ambition and preparation of this report LINK did not consult organisations that are actively involved in tackling wildlife crime and form the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS).
"A sustained effort is required to address the problem and that is what PAWS delivers. However, the LINK report seems to dismiss the official statistics produced by the Scottish Government in recent years which show most types of wildlife crime in Scotland have reduced in recent years or are now stable at single figure or teens of incidents recorded by police each year. The government produces a rigorous annual report into wildlife crime, and part of the reason for introducing that is to get at the facts. Far and away the most common form of wildlife crime is poaching and illegal hare coursing and we believe that is an area which needs to be prioritised.
"The police are increasingly well trained with specialist officers and there are specialist Procurators Fiscal to deal with wildlife crimes. Penalties are being reviewed and there already measures in place such as vicarious liability, the ability to restrict general licences and subsidy withdrawal provisions. In all there is a tough and effective regime to deal with wildlife crime and we believe that the partnership approach already in place is the most effective way forward."