Raven culling has become routine across Scotland, with Scottish Natural Heritage permitting the killing of over 1000 ravens per year in the last three years. The number of ravens permitted to be killed was 1129 in 2016, 1133 in 2017 and 1082 in 2018.
This information has come to public attention following answers to a series of Parliamentary Questions posed by Claudia Beamish MSP. It has also been revealed that the recent licence issued to kill ravens in an area of Perthshire for ‘research’ purposes permits the use of cruel cage traps and was issued with no stakeholder consultation. Furthermore, the ‘review’ of the licence – announced following public outcry in April – will not consider its repeal.
Ravens are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981), but licences can be issued to permit the killing of a “small number of birds”.
All licences given in the last three years have been for “preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters”. The only exception to this has been the licence issued to permit the killing of 69 ravens in Perthshire, which was granted for science and research purposes.
Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind, said:
“We are shocked to find that so many ravens are being routinely killed across Scotland. Ravens are supposedly a protected species, recovering after a long history of persecution. Yet instead of celebrating the recovery of these intelligent and charismatic birds, it appears that they are being routinely killed, with the approval of Scottish Natural Heritage.
“Ravens are opportunistic feeders and are known to predate lambs, which we assume is one of the main motivations behind their persecution. There are many alternative, non-lethal means of deterring raven predation that should be pursued instead.
“Raven killing appears to have spiralled out of control, and it has done so with very little public scrutiny. It’s clearly time for a new approach that seeks to minimise conflict and find ways of living with ravens rather than resorting to lethal control.”
On the licence issued to the Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders, Harry commented:
“The absence of consultation with stakeholders and academia in the Strathbraan raven cull licence undermines its credibility as a research effort. Given that the cull zone is dominated by grouse moors, it suggests instead that this is about protecting red grouse populations for recreational shooting. We are also deeply concerned that the use of crow cage traps has been permitted. They impose serious stress on the trapped animals and, as investigations by OneKind have shown, the slaughter method associated with crow cage traps raises serious welfare concerns.”
Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform Claudia Beamish MSP, said:
“The scale of the killing of ravens is a cause of deep concern.
“With the raven population still recovering from historic persecution, it is difficult to see how permitting the cull of 1,082 birds can possibly be sustainable.
“It is about time Scottish Natural Heritage explained why they are content with the mass killing of these creatures.”
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is Scotland’s leading animal campaigns charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals. OneKind works to expose cruelty and persecution through investigations and research covering Scotland’s wildlife, farm animals and pets. Find out more about our work at onekind.scot
- Read more on the raven cull in Perthshire here
- Footage of a Scottish game keeper killing birds in a crow trap can be viewed here