Cabinet Secretary will be urged to take action on wildlife crime

WILDLIFE CRIME MUST be taken seriously by the Crown Office if progress is to be made in sending a clear message to those who commit such crimes that they are unacceptable.

That is the message that Moray MSP Richard Lochhead hopes to transmit to Roseanna Cunningham when he meets with the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Climate Change today (Wednesday).

The meeting follows the recent case in Moray where the Crown Office deemed video footage shot by the RSPB as inadmissible evidence on the killing of a hen harrier in 2013.

Mr Lochhead, who is a former Environment Secretary, will convey to the Cabinet Secretary that the Crown Office must take into account how difficult it can be to detect wildlife crime given – which most often takes place in remote areas.

Ahead of the meeting Mr Lochhead said: “The justice system needs to reflect the fact that wildlife crime often occurs in very remote areas and therefore every scintilla of evidence must be captured and used in the courts given how difficult it is to gather in the first place.

“The alleged perpetrator caught on film [and] who appears to have shot and killed a protected hen harrier in my constituency probably can’t believe his luck that he’s getting away with it.

“When the public view with their own eyes video footage showing an alleged crime being committed they expect it to count in the courts.

“It’s clear we need a further package of measures to build on the good work already underway to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland. Nothing should be ruled out at this stage including the enhanced use of cameras by the authorities at nesting sites and improved enforcement and deterrents.”