THE trapping and shooting of wild birds on a Scottish estate has been extended over further evidence of wildlife crimes, NatureScot has confirmed.

The move covers 19,500 acres of countryside used as a shooting estate.

General licences normally allow land owners and managers to control wild birds in actions that would otherwise be illegal in order to protect livestock or crops.

But a three-year bar on the licences was brought in for an area in the Lowther Hills in late 2019 over evidence of wildlife crime.

That includes signs of the illegal killing of raptors including three hen harriers, one short-eared owl and two buzzards, and the illegal disturbance of a wild bird nest in incidents dating back five years to 2014.

An appeal against the bar was rejected in 2020, when the Scottish Government agency said it hadn't been possible to identify who was behind the offences. Now the restrictions for Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire have been extended until 2023.

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NatureScot says that's on the basis of further evidence from PoliceScotland of further offences against birds.

Robbie Kernahan, the agency's director of sustainable growth, said: "It is hugely disappointing to have to be considering further issues of wildlife crime against wild birds and we are committed to using the tools we have available to us in tackling this. In this case we have concluded that there is enough evidence to suspend the general licences on this property for a further three years. They may still apply for individual licences, but if granted these will be closely monitored.

"We work closely with Police Scotland and will continue to consider information they provide us on cases which may warrant restriction of general licences.


"The detection of wildlife crime can be difficult but new and emerging technologies along with a commitment from a range of partners to take a collective approach to these issues will help us stop this from occurring in the future."