Announcing stricter rules to address persecution of birds of prey

The Department of Wildlife and the Muirborne Bill also establish rules about muerborne – the practice of controlled burning of wild plants.

The bill was introduced at Holyrood, after the Werritty Review was published in December 2019 which recommended widespread changes to the management of bogs and the regulation of fisheries in Scotland.

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Environment Minister Mairie MacAllan said: “The illegal killing of Scotland’s magnificent birds of prey cannot be tolerated.

This bill will seek to address the destructive minority who will continue to commit these wildlife crimes.

“I understand that shooting grouse contributes to the rural economy and this bill is not about stopping that activity.

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However, it is clear that the protesting birds must be managed in a sustainable and responsible manner to ensure that any environmental impacts are minimized.

The public consultation on the bill, which received more than 4,500 responses, made it clear that regulating and protecting our natural environment is an important issue for many.

“The views of both the public and stakeholders have been carefully considered in the drafting of this law, and I look forward to getting it passed through Parliament.”

But some groups representing rural organizations said they were concerned about the implications of the bill.

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Jake Swindells, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: “We remain deeply concerned that the Wildlife Department and the Muerburn (Scotland) Bill could undermine effective wildlife management, while also risking a lot of the investment associated with shooting grouse, which is vital to managing precious swamp habitats and the livelihoods of many rural workers.

Unless the government works closely with those who actually run the land, they risk getting this wrong.

“Much of the devil will be in the details of the regulations and licensing regimes that will be followed.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association said: “It will take some time for the SGA to assess the implications.

“The bill leaves some fundamental questions unanswered for our members and we will seek meetings with decision makers in the coming days.”

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