Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Bird poisoning 'hot spots' marked

Red Kite
Red kite were among the species confirmed as poisoned

A map of Scotland detailing where birds of prey have been poisoned has been hailed as a significant step in the fight against wildlife crime.

It is the first record of confirmed poisonings recognised by both the wildlife lobby and landowners, who have disputed the scale of the problem.

Areas within Midlothian, the Borders, the Highlands and South Lanarkshire are among those identified as "hot spots."

The map was compiled for the Scottish Government for the period 2004-2008.

Environment minister Michael Russell described the persecution of birds of prey as "appalling."

He said: "While I am pleased to see there has been an overall improvement in poisoning incidents the map clearly shows it remains a problem in parts of Scotland.

"Our wildlife is precious and deserving of our protection. Simply put, a crime against Scotland's natural heritage is a crime against Scotland.

"I applaud those involved for involved for working together on this important issue and hope their efforts will result in a safer Scotland for our birds of prey."

The map, which used data from the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA), only shows incidents of confirmed poisoning cases.

The locations of incidents are not exact and could have happened within a 1km radius, this is in recognition of the fact that birds may travel some distance after ingesting poison.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management for RSPB Scotland, said there was no place for illegal poisoning in Scotland.

He said: "We will work hard with responsible land managers, the police and the Scottish Government to resolve this problem, which blights the otherwise good reputation of people working across the countryside."

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA), said the map would be a useful tool

He said: "With the publication of this report, we have moved to a position where we are looking at official government verified facts, rather than unofficial reports, where often incidents that might not be illegal are captured in the reported persecution statistics."

The species of birds confirmed as poisoned and included in the incidents are red kite, buzzard, golden eagle, tawny owl, and peregrine falcon.

Map of poisoning hot spots
The size of the circles reflects the number of confirmed poisoning incidents

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