THERE WAS only one recorded incident of illegal bird of prey poisoning in Scotland last year, according to the latest maps published by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland – the lowest total in a single year since PAW began compiling data in 2004.

There was a further 36% fall in all recorded bird of prey crimes during 2017, with a total of nine confirmed crimes compared to 14 the previous year.

Species illegally killed in 2017 incidents included buzzards, owls, and a hen harrier, while the golden eagle, osprey and merlin were victims of disturbance cases. In addition to the poisoning incident, there were two shootings, two illegal trappings and three cases of disturbance.

However, despite this drop in recorded incidents, data from satellite tagged raptors continues to show birds disappearing in unexplained circumstances, with persecution strongly suspected in many cases.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “While I welcome this further reduction in recorded bird of prey crimes, including our lowest ever total for poisoning incidents, reports from early 2018 indicate that this remains a problem in some parts of Scotland.

“It is extremely frustrating that some criminals continue to undermine the good work that has been done by conservationists and land managers in recent years, with much of that work being done through the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime.

“We have recently provided additional resources to Police Scotland for the detection and investigation of wildlife crime, and set up a review group to look at grouse moor management, including the potential for licensing this type of business,” she added.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg commented: “In 2010, in Scotland, there were 22 cases of raptor poisoning which was unacceptable. Seven years on, we are looking at one case, with shooting and trapping reduced substantially as well. Few, if any, types of crime in this country have declined at such a rate. This is welcomed by the SGA.

“The SGA has expelled six members in six years for wildlife crime convictions. Going forward, we believe satellite tagged birds should be monitored independently, in the same way SASA currently handles poisoning cases for Government, so that everyone involved in tackling this issue can understand more about any loss of transmission from tags and can develop future strategy, from a position of trust.”

Specific details of one of the nine bird of prey crimes recorded in 2017 are currently withheld for police operational reasons, so the location of this incident is not included on the latest hotspot maps. The incident is, however, included in the figures accompanying the maps. The maps and background data can be viewed at