Britain’s largest species of crow has long been known to prey on livestock, but attacks have become increasingly worse in areas of the Highlands, Scottish islands and Argyll.

This springtime, in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the numbers permitted to be shot will be increased.

The move is seen as a quicker course of action than applying for licences.

Details of where the rules on controlling ravens have been relaxed are contained in a letter to NFU Scotland from Environment Minister, Mike Russell, and Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP, Jamie McGrigor.

NFU Scotland?s head of rural policy, Jonnie Hall, said: ?We were relieved to receive this news, which should make a big difference to farmers who have struggled with raven predation on young livestock. The suffering experienced by animals attacked by groups of ravens was particularly striking, as was the distress it caused to the farmers involved.?

Last April, farmers and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association called for limits on shooting ravens to be lifted.

Their call followed incidents involving flocks at Nethy Bridge and Stratherrick, south of Inverness.

A condition in the Wildlife and Countryside Act allows for ravens to be killed on licence – if the government considers it to be appropriate.

Applications must be made to the Scottish Government or its agency SNH.