A sporting estate has been banned from shooting or trapping wild birds extemnded for a further two years after fresh evidence of wildlife crime was uncovered. 

Scottish Government conservation body NatureScot has said that the restriction on "general licenses" at the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire will now last until 2023 after additional evidence was uncovered. 

The the killing of wild birds has been prohibited on the esate since 2019 in response to police evidence of crimes against wild birds occurring on the land.

This included signs of the illegal killing of raptors, chiefly three hen harriers, one short-eared owl and two buzzards, and the illegal disturbance of a wild bird nest.

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Leadhills Estate encompasses approximately 19,500 acres, mixed between farming and grouse moors. It is owned by two Trusts, the Leadhills Trust and Glengeith Trust.

General licences are granted to 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.

The Herald:

A hen harrier in flight  (stock pic) 

They can be restricted if fresh evidence of wildlife crime is found, such as the discovery of illegally killed birds or traps baited with poison. However, it has not been made clear why further restrictions have been imposed on leadhills. 

Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot’s s Director of Sustainable Growth, said: "It is hugely disappointing to have to be considering further issues of wildlife crime against wild birds and we are committed to using the tools we have available to us in tackling this.

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"In this case we have concluded that there is enough evidence to suspend the general licences on this property for a further three years. They may still apply for individual licences, but -if granted - these will be closely monitored."

He added: “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.”