(POLITICS) SCOTLAND — New hunting restrictions crack down on off-season hunting, but that’s cold comfort to anyone who values life over blood ‘sport.’ The new rules entirely remove the need for a hunting license. Extra points for hitting both the cruel and stupid bullseye. — Global Animal
The Telegraph, Simon Johnson
Roseanna Cunningham said Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is to be handed the power to issue control orders to ensure owners eradicate or control the growth of such “invasive” species.
The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill also removes the need to have a license to hunt game and tightens up controls over snaring and stalking deer.
Among its other provisions is a new offence of taking or killing hares out of season and increased penalties for killing badgers.
Miss Cunningham said the “natural environment” covers 95 per cent of Scotland’s land mass and contributes £17 billion to the economy every year, but many of the rules governing it have remained unchanged since the 1800s.
“As millions of people enjoy our environment for sport and recreation in ever-changing and diverse ways, the laws governing how best to protect our wildlife need to be updated to adapt to modern pressures,” she said.
The legislation introduces a new offence banning the release of non-native animals or plants in the wild and a duty to report those species deemed “a significant risk to Scotland”.
So-called species control orders could be made by ministers to control or eradicate invasive plants or animals, with the costs recouped from land owners.
All snares are to be tagged with the identity of those who set them, who also must undergo formal training. Licenses will no longer be required for the killing of game, but it will remain an offence to sell game killed out of season or which has been poached. The deer stalking season will remain the same, but the Deer Commission Scotland and SNH will be handed extra powers to demand landowners control deer numbers within strict timescales.
A new voluntary rule book is to be set up to ensure stalkers are trained to humanely kill deer, with ministers deciding whether formal laws are required after the arrangements are reviewed in 2014.
Licenses can be granted to build on the habitats of protected species, such as red squirrels and pine martens, where this would bring “significant” economic or environmental benefits and no other option exists.
A range of land and wildlife management bodies, including the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, the Scottish Countryside Alliance and the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, welcomed the legislation.
In a joint statement, a spokesman for the groups said: “These proposals just announced demonstrate that government has listened to the practitioners on the ground.”
But Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management for RSPB Scotland, said: “The voluntary approach to wildlife crime reduction needs to be supported by tougher sanctions against the hardened minority of land managers who continue to tolerate the illegal killing of Scotland’s wildlife and who ignore public opinion.”