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Bird-killing pesticides outlawed in Scotland

by Russel Fallis, The Scotsman

EIGHT pesticides used to kill rare birds of prey are to be outlawed in Scotland from next month.

Those caught with the banned substances face six-month jail terms and fines of up to £5,000, said Lewis Macdonald, the deputy environment and rural development minister.

The new law - introduced by ministerial order, without the need for legislation in parliament - aims to offer greater protection to birds such as the golden eagle, buzzard, red kite and sea eagle.

The step follows reports over many years of these species being found dead beside the remains of rabbits or other prey which had been deliberately laced with poisons.

In the most recent incident, carbofuran - one of the newly- banned eight - was found to have caused the death of a red kite on a shooting estate in Cromdale, Strathspey.

The new offence should also safeguard children and domestic pets - potential victims of accidental poisoning.

The eight active ingredients banned as a result of the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005 are aldicarb, alphachloralose, aluminium phosphide, bendiocarb, carbofuran, mevinphos, sodium cyanide and strychnine.

The Executive said the ban did not include pesticide products commonly used for gardening.

Anyone caught in possession of the specified substances, which officials say have a very limited conventional use, would be required to show that they were held for legitimate purposes as stated on the label.

Mr Macdonald said: "Banning the possession of these pesticides will further strengthen available powers to fight those committing these offences. The eight ingredients listed have all been used in the recent past to kill wildlife.

"The Executive is committed to protecting Scotland’s natural heritage."

RSPB Scotland described the new law, which comes into force on 14 March, as "a new and very effective tool" in the fight against wildlife criminals.

Dave Dick, RSPB Scotland’s senior investigations officer, said the legislation was in everyone’s interests as the poisons were extremely dangerous to humans as well as wildlife.

He said: "Enforcement of the law will now be easier in dealing with this crime.

"In recent years we have lost far too many of our rarest birds of prey such as red kites and golden eagles to totally unnecessary, indiscriminate use of such poisons."

Yesterday’s announcement is the latest measure in the Executive’s fight against wildlife crime. MSPs introduced tougher police search-and-arrest powers, six-month jail terms and £5,000 fines for offenders such as egg thieves, when they passed the Executive’s Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act in 2003.

Last year’s Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act introduced new powers to tackle badger baiting and illegal snaring, as well as an offence of unlawful possession of pesticides which was extended yesterday.

Elish Angiolini, QC, the solicitor general, announced last September the creation of a network of specialist wildlife crime prosecutors across Scotland’s 11 Crown Office and Procurator-Fiscal Service areas.

©heal toxics, 2003
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