Scotland’s public body for natural heritage, Scottish Natural Heritage, has published a list of the worryingly broad range of species and shockingly high number of 130,000 wild animals it has licensed to be killed within the last five years.
Species Licensed to be Killed
The official figures, released on account of a FOI request by The Ferret, cover 63 species, including some of Scotland’s rarest species and many examples of its iconic wildlife. Birds accounted for 51 of the species licensed to be killed, with far more geese licensed to be killed than any other animal, but other animals included moths, fish and lizards. We were particularly concerned to see that 30 licences had been granted to kill beavers in the three months since they gained legal protection: the welfare issues have been well documented and everyone who campaigned for the protection of these harmless creatures will be appalled.
Worrying Lack of Exact Figures
Scottish Natural Heritage only refused 36 applications for licences to kill species between 2014-2019 and of the licences granted, 497 did not specify numbers, rather allowing for the species of animal to be killed ‘as required’. Many of the licenses that were returned upon expiration did also not confirm how many animals were killed, as required by Scottish Natural Heritage. Thus, we can’t know the exact figure of the animals killed under licence, which is, of course, very concerning. These figures also exclude the wildlife permitted to be killed outwith Scottish Natural Heritage’s general licensing system: deer, seals, ducks and hares to name a few.
The Very Last Resort
Scottish Natural Heritage confirmed that it grants licences on the grounds of economic interest, health & safety, serious damage to forestry, and the environment. OneKind maintains it is vital that the killing of sentient wild animals should only ever be the very last resort, after all non-lethal interventions have been exhausted and well documented.