In announcing the amendment Scottish Enironment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:
"Increased awareness and condemnation appears to be doing little to bring down the number of illegal bird poisonings in Scotland. Official figures show that 16 birds of prey were poisoned in the first six months of this year and I find this extremely disappointing.
We have robust legislation in place to tackle this sort of crime but tougher action has to be taken to deter those who think that they can get away with persecuting our wildlife.
I don’t want to unfairly target any particular group and I will be engaging with stakeholders over the coming weeks to make sure that they know what we are trying to achieve with this amendment.
We have a duty to protect our birds of prey as they are an integral part of our national identity. They also help our economy by attracting tourists from across the world and we cannot afford to have our international reputation tarnished by the few who continue to target them illegally.”
Gamekeepers up and down the land should be celebrating this amendment as it will make it more difficult for landowners and Game Estate managers to instruct them to illegally persecute birds of prey in order to reduce gamebird predation and firmly pin the liability where it should lie - with those more interested in profit than wildlife. If this amendment does make the law books in Scotland then the RSPB should begin an immediate campaign targeting the English and Welsh to make similar moves here where the problem continues. The benefits for species such as Hen Harrier are there to be seen.