Wildlife offences involving birds have more than doubled – with a police operation targeting attacks on peregrine falcons said to be responsible for the rise in cases.

Scottish Government figures on wildlife crime for 2021-22 show there were 74 offences involving birds – up from 29 the previous year.

The rise comes despite the overall number of wildlife offences recorded by Police Scotland falling 7%, down from 308 in 2020-21 to 286 in 2021-22.

There were “noticeable decreases” in cases of fish poaching, with offences dropping from 110 to 49, and offences involving hunting with dogs (down from 44 to 13).

The report said increases in offences against birds, and other wildlife offences, could “in part be attributed to Operation Tantallon which targeted offences against peregrine falcons”.

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It said: “Operation Tantallon, which targeted crimes against peregrine falcons, was the key factor behind increases between 2020-21 and 2021-22 in offences for trade in endangered species (from one to 46) and raptor persecution (from 11 to 24).”

The 2021-22 figures also show 77 cases were passed to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for consideration, with 23 people subsequently prosecuted.

In 33 cases, an “alternative to prosecution”, such as a fine, was used, while 21 cases led to no action from prosecutors.

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said: “The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has a clear policy on wildlife crime. If any SGA members are convicted of wildlife crime, they are removed from the organisation.

“We have taken this course of action on eight occasions in the last 10 years. The SGA will never condone wildlife crime and will act decisively if ever there is cause to do so.”