A Perthshire estate has been rapped by Scotland’s national heritage watchdog following evidence of wildlife crime against birds.
NatureScot announced on Wednesday that it has restricted the use of general licences on Lochan Estate for three years.
The public body said the decision was made on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland, which included a satellite-tagged hen harrier found dead in an illegally set spring trap.
A spokesman for Lochan Estate later said the estate “categorically rejects any suggestion of wrongdoing in relation to the welfare of wildlife” and would be appealing the decision.
General licences allow landowners or land managers to carry out actions which would otherwise be illegal, including controlling common species of wild birds to protect crops or livestock.
Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, said: “We are committed to using all the tools we have available to tackle wildlife crime.
“In this case, there is clear evidence that crime involving a wild bird occurred on this property. Because of this, and the risk of more wildlife crimes taking place, we have suspended the general licences on this property for three years.
“They may still apply for individual licences, but these will be closely monitored.”
NatureScot believes the move will help to protect wild birds in the area.
Necessary land management activities will still take place, but will be under tighter supervision.
Mr Fraser added: “We believe this is a proportionate response to protect wild birds in the area and prevent further wildlife crime.
“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.”
In response to NatureScot’s decision, a spokesman for Lochan Estate said: “The estate categorically rejects any suggestion of wrongdoing in relation to the welfare of wildlife.
“We made very robust representations five months ago and only received the notification this week, which we found surprising given the material we produced.
“We will therefore be appealing this decision.”
For more information on licence restrictions, click here.