Control measures can include shooting under licence where required.

This follows a lengthy campaign by the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA), BASC Scotland, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The long-awaited guidance provides advice to land managers on the circumstances and type of evidence required before licences can be issued by SNH to control predators that are having a negative impact on wild birds.

Before an individual licence can be issued, SNH needs to be satisfied that a cause and effect link exists between predation and significant declines in the population of other species.

SNH?s Ron Macdonald commented: ?SNH recognises that some predatory species can affect populations of wild birds. Where these are directly responsible for key declines in wild bird populations and where there is a real conservation need to do so, we accept that predators may need to be managed or controlled under licence.?

Douglas McAdam of the SRPBA explained what this news means for gamekeepers and land managers: ?The legal provision to control predators has always existed, but gamekeepers and landowners did not bother to apply because the application process was perceived to be impossible. The licensing process has now finally been clarified and the evidence required has been properly defined. People needing these licences now know what the criteria are for a successful application and what type of evidence is acceptable.?

Mr McAdam added: ?I would urge anyone who has been experiencing problems with ravens and buzzards to make use of this new process and apply for these licences now. Robust evidence will be required to show real impacts. The GWCT and BASC are ready to help with any technical input.?

Scotland?s pro-shooting organisations have welcomed the news.

The SGA?s Alex Hogg said: ?After campaigning for these much needed licences for the past 10 years, the SGA is delighted that SNH has finally recognised the need for positive management of the protected predators.?

BASC Scotland?s Dr Colin Shedden agreed: ?We hope that the new licensing system does prove to be efficient and that those land managers experiencing sustained and documented predation, whether on wild birds or on livestock, will now be able to address the problem.?

The new guidance is at http://www.snh.org.uk/licences/li-advguide.asp

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