The Scottish Government has led the way in trying to stamp out wildlife crime in the UK, especially against birds of prey. These measures have included the introduction of vicarious liability; a pesticide disposal scheme; increased wildlife crime penalties; and legal protection for mountain hares.
Sadly, however, these improvements have not proved an adequate deterrent to wildlife crime and unsustainable management practices on driven grouse moors, and in our view a more significant change is now required.
This action and the following report on the fate of satellite tagged golden eagles led to the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment commissioning the independent Grouse Moor Management Review Group (Werritty Review) in 2017. The formal Scottish Government repsonse to the Werritty Review is expected in November 2020.
In the meantime, we will work with the Scottish Government and support efforts to put in place an effective licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting, as well as implementing other important recommendations of the Weritty Review, such as licensing of muirburn. For us an effective licensing scheme must have strong sanctions, including the facility to remove the right to shoot from land where wildlife protection laws are breached. It must also be properly resourced, monitored and then enforced by public bodies.
Following the RSPB Gamebird Review, we will also have the additional backstop of pursuing a ban on driven grouse shooting if a licensing scheme proves inadequate. We feel that 2025 is a realistic timescale to deliver substantive progress. In the meanwhile, we will continue to work towards a goal of sustainable grouse shooting in Scotland.