Encouraging decline in crimes against Scotland’s wild birds


By a Newsnet reporter
This week sees the launch of the aptly named “Operation Easter” campaign by PAW Scotland (the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime).
PAW Scotland is a partnership between the police, land managers and conservation bodies which aims to stamp out crimes against Scotland’s wildlife.

“Operation Easter” a flagship annual campaign of PAW Scotland, is beginning to show encouraging results in its aim of deterring would be egg-thieves.

Tampering with the nests of wild birds is a crime.  But for some people, the lure of adding the egg of some of Scotland’s rarest birds to their collection is a huge temptation.

High profile, round the clock watches of secret location nest sites of birds such as the white-tailed sea eagles on Mull, coupled with the general awareness raising aspect of “Operation Easter” have seen the number of egg thefts reduced to an all time low.

The downward trend has also been helped by the innovative use of modern legislation – such as the ASBO served on an egg-collector from London.  The man had targeted species in Scotland including golden eagle and osprey, and is now banned from entering the country during the nesting season for 10 years.

The decline in egg thefts is not the only recent success reported by PAW Scotland partnership.

For a number of years, persecution crimes against Scotland’s birds of prey have been making the headlines.  Such crimes, which include poisoning, shooting and illegal trapping, have been described as a blight on Scotland’s countryside.

Concerted efforts by PAW Scotland, have now begun to bear fruit.  The recently published 2011 raptor persecution figures show a reduction of over 50%, from 22 poisoning incidents  in 2010 to a new low of only 10 in 2011.

PAW Scotland is a broad church of organisations, encompassing everyone from gamekeepers to bird watchers to CID officers.  However, the partnership is now appealing for members of the public to do their bit to help ensure that the decline in bird crime continues.

Chair of PAW Scotland, Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said: “While our member organisations are making significant headway, they can’t do it alone and we depend on everyone who’s out and about in the countryside to be vigilant and report suspicious activity.”

Anyone who witnesses or suspects that people are involved egg theft or any other wildlife or rural crime should contact Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555 111 or the local police.