Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Three-fold rise in wildlife crime

RSPB Scotland's Bob Elliot with dead Golden Eagle in Argyll (June 2009)
The figures cover poisoning of birds of prey such as Golden Eagles

Wildlife crimes in Scotland have almost trebled in the past decade, according to new figures.

Offences involving cruelty to wild animals increased from 140 in 1999-2000 to 384 in 2008-09.

Incidents in the Strathclyde Police force area rose from 27 to 114 over the 10-year period. In Grampian the increase was from 20 to 49.

Lothian saw its numbers jump from one to 62, while Northern Constabulary recorded an increase from 34 to 69.

The figures, broken up into each police force area, cover offences involving birds, badgers, hunting with dogs and cruelty to wild animals.

They were released to the Conservatives by the Scottish Government.

Dr Nanette Milne MSP, Conservative spokeswoman for the environment, said: "Wildlife crime is deplorable and we must do all we can to wipe out this disgusting practice. Based on today's figures, we are a long way from achieving that goal.

'Growing awareness'

"Whilst there may be a case for the tightening of existing legislation, it is the consistent enforcement of that existing legislation which is the real problem.

"Scotland has some of the strongest wildlife protection laws in Europe and our efforts should be primarily focused on ensuring the existing legislation is properly used and enforced."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "The increase reflects the growing awareness and reporting of crimes against wildlife.

"We are determined to continue our work through the Partnership For Action Against Wildlife Crime to bring those few individuals perpetrating crimes against wildlife to justice."

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