A NEW realism over the protection of Scotland's raven population is emerging, with Scottish Natural Heritage issuing evidence that supports the continued use of control licences to prevent damage to livestock – particularly lambs.

The SNH report, commissioned to ensure that the number of control licences issued won’t affect the population in the long term, concluded that raven numbers in Scotland are 'healthy'.

In fact, there has been an increase in the Scottish raven population of over 50% over the past 20 years, with Scotland holding the majority of the UK raven population. SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, Robbie Kernahan, said: "It is our job to encourage healthy populations of native species as well as support rural businesses.

“Ravens can cause serious damage to livestock, particularly lambs. Where this is a serious problem, and there is no other solution, we issue licences for farmers to shoot and scare the birds," said Mr Kernahan.

“This research shows that the number of ravens killed under licence won’t put the Scottish population at risk. However, we will continue to monitor so we can adjust licence numbers when we need to.”

NFU Scotland's environment and land use policy manager Andrew Midgley commented: “NFUS welcomes the publication of this report. The licencing system provides a very important mechanism through which farmers can seek to prevent wildlife, which is legally protected, from causing serious agricultural damage.

“Farmers apply to SNH for a licence to deal with a problem and it is for SNH to make decisions about granting licences on the basis of its knowledge of the population and species ecology. It is therefore vital that SNH has up-to-date population information.”

To download the full report, go to https://www.nature.scot/snh-research-report-1012-population-modelling-scottish-northern-raven-population