PEOPLE CONVICTED of wildlife crimes such as deer poaching, hare coursing, killing badgers or birds of prey should receive bigger fines and longer prison sentences than are currently available, according to landowner body Scottish Land and Estates.

Following an evidence session with the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, SLE said that those who undertake illegal acts should face strong penalties proportionate to the crime and in line with those for similar crimes, with sanctions applied consistently and clearly to act as a real deterrent.

Policy adviser Karen Ramoo,who gave evidence to the committee, said: “We need to send out a clear message that wildlife crime of any kind is absolutely unacceptable, and these reckless acts will not be tolerated. That is why we are calling for longer prison sentences and bigger maximum fines for the most serious wildlife crimes, to act as a deterrent.

“By providing clear guidelines to the courts on sentencing and by enabling courts to issue bigger penalties than currently available, we are confident that wildlife crime in Scotland will continue to decrease as it has over the past five years," she said.

“We also believe that enabling police to use and manage surveillance cameras under strict Regulation of Investigatory Powers Scotland Act 2000 procedures where evidence suggests there could be acts of wildlife crime, could act as a real deterrent and could lead to more prosecutions. Scotland’s wildlife continues to rely on the public, our members and the police to act as eyes and ears to ensure that these heinous crimes are stamped out. “

SLE added that it supports 'more imaginative and targeted' sanctions, including community payback orders when appropriate, for less serious wildlife crimes that have less of an impact on a species and the environment.