The use of general licences on a Highland estate has been restricted for three years after there was evidence found of wildlife crime against birds.
Police Scotland provided evidence to NatureScot, which included a poisoned red kite found on the Moy Estate in 2020, and incidents in relation to trapping offences.
NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, Donald Fraser said: “We consider the information from Police Scotland provides robust evidence that wild birds have been killed or taken or there has been intention to do so illegally on this land.
“Because of this, and the risk of more wildlife crimes taking place, we have suspended the use of general licences on this property for three years until June 2025. They may still apply for individual licences, but these will be closely monitored.
“NatureScot is committed to using all the tools we have available to tackle wildlife crime. This measure will help to protect wild birds in the area, while still allowing necessary land management activities to take place, although under tighter supervision.
“We believe this is a proportionate response to protect wild birds in the area and prevent further wildlife crime. We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland and consider information they provide on cases which may warrant restricting general licences.”
General licences allow landowners or land managers to carry out control of common species of wild birds, such as crows and magpies, to protect crops or livestock, without the need to apply for an individual licence.
In addition to this restriction, there are currently three other restrictions in place on Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park, Lochan Estate in Perthshire and Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire.
A spokesman for Moy Estate’s management said: “We are extremely disappointed by this decision and will be considering an appeal.
“The estate management take our responsibilities in relation to wildlife very seriously and do not condone any activity that is either unlawful or below best practice standards.