A hen harrier. Photo: Lorne Gill/NatureScot

A hen harrier. Photo: Lorne Gill/NatureScot

A Perthshire shooting estate faces three years of restrictions after a Scottish government body imposed limitations on its general licence.

NatureScot, Holyrood’s advisory body on the outdoors, said the decision on the Lochan Estate was prompted by evidence from Police Scotland.

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.

NatureScot said evidence of wildlife crime included a satellite-tagged hen harrier, found dead on Lochan Estate near Dunkeld, in an illegally set spring trap.

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.

“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 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.”

The restrictions will prevent people from using the general licences on the land in question for three years. This period can increase if more evidence of offences comes to light.

An estate spokesperson told STV it would be appealing against the ruling and denied any wrongdoing in relation to the welfare of wildlife.

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