Newly released statistics show overall recorded wildlife crime for 2022 fell by 7% against the previous year, but one leading organisation has called for the statistics to be published sooner.

The report shows recorded crime for fish poaching fell from 110 to 49 offences and hunting with dogs fell from 44 to 13 offences.

Increases were seen for birds which rose from 29 to 74 offences and ‘other wildlife offences rose from 43 to 73 offences.

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The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service received 77 cases relating to wildlife crime, with fish poaching being the most common category at 23 cases.

Criminal proceedings statistics in 2021-22 show that 18 people were proceeded against for wildlife crimes – a return to a more typical level after the very low numbers seen in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) said rural businesses and communities were playing a ‘vital role’ in combatting the nature and biodiversity crises and ‘working to drive down wildlife crime is a collective aim for everyone.’

Ross Ewing of SLE said: “This wildlife crime report illustrates the ongoing progress in many areas and demonstrates where effective policing, such as that conducted through Operation Tantallon, which targeted offences against peregrine falcons, is so important.

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“The decrease in offences related to fish poaching, hare coarsing and hunting with dogs is welcome and there has been an increased effort by stakeholders to raise public awareness of these incidents.

“The Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act came into force in October and we are waiting to see how this impacts on trends in future statistics.

“Crimes against birds of prey continue to be a key priority for government and police and whilst offences rose this year, we are pleased that the effectiveness of Operation Tantallon is highlighted which accounted for 15 of the 24 recorded offences.

“With just nine other offences recorded, incidents remain at very low levels and we are hugely supportive of Police Scotland in their work to bring perpetrators to justice. Raptor crime is wholly unacceptable, and our members are committed to assisting government and the police in this area.

“While the publication of this report is undoubtedly helpful in targeting resources towards key trends in the data, the lag between the period to which this data relates, 2021-22 and the publication of the report in 2024 makes it challenging for Police Scotland to respond in a timeous manner.

“It would be helpful if the lag could be minimised as far as possible in future years.”