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RSPB accused of portraying landowners as criminals

In a letter sent to the bird charity and seen by Shooting Times, Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), which represents 2,500 landowners in Scotland, wrote of his “very strong concern” about a cartoon strip in the charity’s Junior Birdlife magazine.

In the cartoon, an RSPB investigations officer responds to a call from a mother and daughter about a dead bird of prey, and stakes out a wildlife crime scene accompanied only by Forkie, a red kite.

The evidence gathered leads to an arrest.

In a statement, Mr McAdam said: “I would not comment on the detail of correspondence between us and the RSPB, but I can confirm that we raised serious concerns about some of their literature. Our main concern is that there is a very well-established procedure for the reporting of incidents where there is a suspicion that a bird may have been poisoned.”

“The cartoon appears to flout the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime’s guidelines for the collection of evidence in raptor persecution crimes, which state that incidents of raptor crime are often found by members of the public – those which are suspected of being a crime, must be reported to the police.”

Mr McAdam continued: “The police are the first port of call for any incident, and the RSPB should adhere to this, rather than confusing the reporting of incidents with their own fundraising and membership activities.”

In the letter, Mr McAdam also objected to the charity’s portrayal of the accused, describing it as a massive insult to the vast majority of landowners and farmers across the UK.

A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said that the organisation was in the process of preparing a response, and that the story was based on an actual incident last year.

He said: “The cartoon was targeted at eight-year-olds across the UK, and a detailed interpretation of its meaning by adults is somewhat misleading.”

“We have had constructive discussions with SLE and other stakeholders at the Scottish Government-led Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, and joint action by all stakeholders — as illustrated by the cartoon — is how this serious issue will be resolved.”

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