Ruskell welcomes steps towards a licensing scheme for game bird hunting

Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (23 May) welcomed steps towards a licensing scheme for game bird hunting such as driven grouse shooting in an effort to protect rare birds of prey from persecution.

Holyrood's Environment Committee, of which Mr Ruskell is a member, today agreed to keep open a petition by the Scottish Raptor Study Group calling for the introduction of a licensing scheme, and it agreed to write to Scottish Ministers asking them to explore how to implement such a scheme.

It follows recent decisions of the Crown Office to drop prosecutions against gamekeepers.

Mark Ruskell, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said:

“Bird of prey populations have been decimated by decades of persecution while a voluntary approach has had limited success in tackling wildlife crime. The burden of proof remains far too high to bring about successful convictions and we have seen a string of cases abandoned by the Crown Office Prosecution Service. That’s why we need a licensing regime backed up by civil law. 

"I’m very pleased our committee agreed the next step towards licensing for driven grouse shoots and urge the Scottish Government to immediately bring interests together to look at a trial introduction in an area where persecution is rife. Sporting estates that do not have raptor persecution as part of their business model should have nothing to fear from a licencing regime designed to enforce existing law.”