RSPB Scotland has published a detailed 20 year review of the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland, which confirms that 779 protected raptors were illegally killed between 1994 and 2014. In total, 468 birds of prey were poisoned. 173 were shot and 76 were caught in illegal traps. There were also seven attempted shootings. The figures include 104 red kites, 37 golden eagles (pictured), 30 hen harriers, 16 goshawks and 10 white-tailed eagles.
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RSPB Scotland’s specialist Investigations team has been meticulously documenting the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland for 20 years to provide a thorough public record of the scale, location and methods of wildlife crime. This effort, supported by an extensive body of peer reviewed science, has shown the severe impact of criminal activities on some of Scotland’s most iconic and vulnerable bird species.
The report deals only with incidents that have been confirmed as involving criminal activity, either by post mortem at a government laboratory or by reliable witnesses. The number of birds actually killed will therefore be much higher.
In a further 171 incidents, poison baits and/or non-bird of prey victims of poisoning were found, including 14 domestic cats and 14 dogs. There were also an additional 134 incidents where, although no victim was recovered, clear attempts had been made to target raptors – through the use of illegal traps for example.
RSPB Scotland’s review shows that over the past 20 years a significant majority of cases take place in areas associated with game-bird shooting, and in particular within upland areas managed intensively for driven grouse shooting. It is also noted however, that in recent years there have been some significant and welcome reductions in the number of cases reported from lowland areas of Scotland.
Director of RSPB Scotland, Stuart Housden, said: “We recognise that many landowners and their staff have helped with positive conservation efforts for birds of prey, particularly with reintroduction programmes for white–tailed eagles and red kites, and that the majority operate legitimate shooting businesses; but there are still far too many who do not act responsibly, and there will be no improvement in the conservation status of raptors until all land management is carried out wholly within the law.”
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said: “I welcome this extensive review of the data that RSPB have collated over a 20 year period. There is no doubt that the figures in this report make for uncomfortable reading, but we have made progress in recent years with the new vicarious liability provisions, the publication of the report from the Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group, new measures implementing restrictions on the use of General Licences and earlier this year the Scottish Government funded pesticide disposal scheme that removed over 700kg of illegally held poisons in Scotland.
“RSPB are a key partner in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland and they have worked with us to support the fight against wildlife crime for many years. I am pleased also that RSPB recognise the efforts made by Police Scotland and the Crown Office in dealing with this difficult area of crime, which is often very complex to investigate.
“I have noted that the RSPB are calling for the Scottish Government funded review into game licensing in other countries to be commenced and I can confirm that tenders to carry out this important research were invited on 11 December.”
There is now well documented scientific evidence of the impact of illegal human killing on Scotland’s golden eagle, hen harrier, peregrine, and reintroduced red kite populations. The last national hen harrier survey for example showed the population had declined by 22% in Scotland between 2004 and 2010. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee Hen Harrier Framework 2011 concluded that illegal killing was having a significant impact on this species, particularly on land managed for driven grouse shooting in the southern uplands and eastern Highlands.
The report on illegal killing by RSPB Scotland has provided reliable data to inform Scottish Government conservation efforts for the country’s internationally important populations of birds of prey, and also re-affirms the need for continued vigilance; good wildlife protection laws; effective enforcement powers for the police; and strong sanctions in the courts to act as an effective deterrent.
Stuart Housden continued: “We welcome measures taken by the Scottish Government over the past 20 years to improve the laws protecting our birds of prey, and the recent improvements by Police Scotland and the Crown Office in tackling wildlife crime. However, our data shows that illegal killing of raptors continues to be a widespread problem in significant parts of upland Scotland. These crimes impact the natural wealth of Scotland and undermine our international reputation, wildlife tourism and diversified rural businesses.
“Scotland’s shooting industry, in contrast to the rest of Europe, has ‘light touch’ regulation and little public accountability. Self policing has been given more than a fair chance and numerous public warnings, from ministers aimed at upland sporting managers, have not been heeded. It is long overdue that sporting management should be licensed, conditional on compliance with wildlife protection laws. We encourage the Scottish Government to initiate the planned review of game-bird licensing systems in other similar countries as soon as possible so we can learn and adopt best practice to ensure a sustainable future for sports shooting.”
Image credit: Golden Eagle by Brocken Inaglory via Wikipedia
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”