The Scottish Government has admitted that it failed to provide specific guidelines for gamekeepers wishing to apply for a licence to protect reared gamebirds from protected predators such as buzzards, sparrowhawks and pine martens. At the same time, the Scottish director of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Ian McCall, has called for limits to be placed on the growing number of raptors in Scotland.

In a recent interview with The Scotsman newspaper, Mr McCall argued that the Scottish Government should be more realistic about the damaging impact of raptors. He said: “We have got to decide how many raptors we want because an infinite number is unacceptable. There should be target populations and when we exceed them then we may need to control them.”

Though landowners can already apply for a licence to shoot birds of prey in certain circumstances, one has never been granted to protect reared gamebirds. In May, Scottish Natural Heritage issued long-awaited guidelines designed to help land managers apply for licences to cull protected predators. However, the guidance failed to cover how keepers should go about applying for a licence to protect their birds. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) then accused the Scottish Government of lacking training and being ill-equipped to deal with requests from keepers wishing to control protected predators.

The rest of this article appears in 21st October issue of Shooting Times.

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