The remit of the panel includes consideration as to how grouse moors can be managed sustainably and within the law.
RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Raptor Study Group have welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government on the grouse moor enquiry panel.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland said: "We very much welcome the announcement of this enquiry and of the independent panel. We look forward to giving evidence to the panel in due course.
“The remit of the panel includes consideration as to how grouse moors can be managed sustainably and within the law. There are significant public concerns about how grouse moors are currently being managed in Scotland, including clear evidence gathered over decades of the illegal killing of birds of prey.
“In recent years these concerns have broadened to encompass wider grouse moor management practices, as commercialisation has taken place, with an emphasis on producing very large and unsustainable grouse numbers for sport shooting. These practices include muirburn on peatland habitats which are important as carbon stores for combating climate change, the culling of mountain hares and the medication of ‘wild’ red grouse, both designed to prevent grouse diseases and artificially boost grouse bags.
"We support the introduction of an effective licensing system for driven grouse shooting, with sanctions including the removal of such licences where illegal practices are confirmed. A licensing system could be supported by a statutory Code of Practice setting out clear management standards to protect public interests and prevent bad management practices. These kind of licensing systems are common place in other European countries and equally support legitimate and well run shooting enterprises."
Patrick Stirling Aird, Secretary of the Scottish Raptor Study Group said, ‘We are delighted that the membership of the panel has been announced and look forward to providing evidence when called upon to do so.
"The public have increasing concerns around the way in which grouse moors are being operated with a substantial body of science proving beyond all doubt the widespread and illegal persecution of birds of prey on many such moors.
"We support the introduction of licensing for driven grouse shooting with enforceable sanctions where illegal practices are confirmed. Such a licensing scheme could incorporate a statutory code of practice which helps to protect the public interest and to prevent bad management practices. This concept is widespread in Europe and elsewhere and works well with legitimate shooting interests."