IN THE wake of the shooting of yet another protected bird, sporting estates have received an unequivocal warning - put an end to these kind of wildlife crimes, or risk the introduction of a licensing system for your industry.

Commenting on the shooting of a satellite tagged hen harrier, Scottish environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: "It is extremely disappointing to hear the news that one of the satellite tagged hen harriers from the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project has been shot.

"The Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to working with law enforcement and others to bring an end to this outdated criminal activity. I expect all right minded people involved in the countryside, including with shooting, to agree that wildlife crime has no place in a modern Scotland. I would urge anyone with any information on the latest incident to contact Police Scotland as soon as possible.

"We have been taking action, including seeing the first successful vicarious liability prosecution, and the review of penalties will be reporting in the near future," added Dr McLeod. "We have committed to an examination of the regulation of the game shooting industry sector elsewhere and have made clear that, though it would be complex and require primary legislation, the licensing of shooting businesses in Scotland remains one of the options that could be adopted."

Commenting on the discovery of the shot Hen Harrier, Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said: "There has been a lot of good partnership work recently regarding Hen Harriers in Scotland so this discovery is obviously a setback.

"We are disappointed not to have known about it, as a PAW partner, until now, given the discovery was made in April. As an organisation, we condemn wildlife crime but it would be wrong to pass judgement on who might be responsible until more is known. We would encourage our members to assist Police Scotland with their inquiries."