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Scottish Natural Heritage 'reaching for the shotgun' with excessive bird culls

SCOTLAND’S wildlife agency has been accused of “reaching for the shotgun” and failing to protect endangered birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage granted more than 500 licences for bird culls last year, figures released by Scottish Labour today show.

Among the species targeted were red-listed ones such as starlings, house sparrows and grey partridges.

Culling licences were granted for these species for reasons including falconry, aviculture and protecting crops, public health or air safety.

Scottish Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish said: “Rather than reaching for the shotgun first, organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage should be exhausting all other options before allowing culls.”

An RSPB Scotland spokeswoman said bird campaigners had “never taken issue with the principle” of licensed killing when properly regulated.

But she cautioned: “We have certainly become more concerned recently that some licences have been issued on the basis of less than adequate scientific evidence.

“We are struggling to understand, for instance, what serious threat to public health is posed by the endangered swift that requires indefinite numbers of them to be killed.”

Conrad Landin is Morning Star Scotland editor.

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