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28 June 2012

(S4O-01182) Raptor Populations

Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) (Con): 4. To ask the Scottish Executive how it assesses the population of raptor species across Scotland and how this information is recorded and published. (S4O-01182)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): Information on the number and breeding performance of the 19 species of raptor and owl that regularly breed in Scotland is co-ordinated annually by Scottish Natural Heritage and collated under the Scottish raptor monitoring scheme. There is a link to the information from the SRMS on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Alex Johnstone: I thank the minister for that answer and for the written answer that I received yesterday on a related subject. The minister will be aware that there is a growing number of reports of attacks by large avian predators on livestock. That was brought home to me by a constituent, Mrs Moyra Gray of Glendye, who successfully filmed a golden eagle attacking a lamb—although, happily, the attack was fought off by a particularly vociferous blackface ewe. Will the minister give an undertaking that, in what is a difficult situation, he will ensure that there is accurate and independent recording of populations of large avian predators and of reports of attacks on livestock to ensure that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we begin to address the issue of how farmers might be appropriately compensated for what I believe are increasing losses?

Stewart Stevenson: I take the member’s general point that any actions that Government takes should be evidence based. No one would disagree with that. We certainly want to understand the nature of the issue. It was interesting that, yesterday, a film was released of a buzzard taking an osprey chick, which shows that sometimes there are issues between raptor species and not simply issues for animals for which humans are responsible. I am certainly always interested to have more information so that we can better inform our decisions.

Stewart Stevenson
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