Revealed: the extent of raven slaughter in Scotland

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​Thousands of birds are routinely killed - despite their "protected" status

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29th May 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The slaughter of ravens is routine across Scotland, with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) allowing the destruction of thousands of birds in the past three years.

It's been revealed that the number of the animals killed was 1,129 in 2016, 1,133 in 2017 and 1,082 in 2018.

This information came to light following answers to parliamentary questions posed by Claudia Beamish MSP.

Ravens – the largest crow species and one of the more intelligent birds – are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981), but licences can be issued to permit the killing of a “small number of birds”.

There was outrage recently when, as reported by TFN, SNH had granted a licence for the slaughter of  hundreds of birds by gamekeeping and farming interests over a large area of Perthshire.

This is supposedly being done to protect upland wader populations – however, the application covers several large grouse shooting estates, which have been the scenes of wildlife crime, including the destruction of birds of prey.

Beamish, Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, said: “The scale of the killing of ravens is a cause of deep concern.

“With the raven population still recovering from historic persecution, it is difficult to see how permitting the cull of 1,082 birds can possibly be sustainable.

“It is about time Scottish Natural Heritage explained why they are content with the mass killing of these creatures.”

Harry Huyton, director of animal welfare charity OneKind, said: “We are shocked to find that so many ravens are being routinely killed across Scotland. Ravens are supposedly a protected species, recovering after a long history of persecution. Yet instead of celebrating the recovery of these intelligent and charismatic birds, it appears that they are being routinely killed, with the approval of Scottish Natural Heritage.

“Ravens are opportunistic feeders and are known to predate lambs, which we assume is one of the main motivations behind their persecution. There are many alternative, non-lethal means of deterring raven predation that should be pursued instead.

“Raven killing appears to have spiralled out of control, and it has done so with very little public scrutiny. It’s clearly time for a new approach that seeks to minimise conflict and find ways of living with ravens rather than resorting to lethal control.”

SNH head of wildlife operations, Robbie Kernahan, said: “SNH issues licences on a regular basis to protect livestock from raven attacks during lambing season.

“Before issuing any licence we must be satisfied there will be no detrimental overall effect on the species concerned. This is the case with all licenses relating to the raven population.”