2018-05-24  facebooktwitterrss

High Lambing Losses Emphasises Need for Raven Cull in Scotland

With reports of many young lambs being lost to raven predation this lambing time, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is reiterating its support for the decision by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to grant licences to allow ravens numbers to be responsibly reduced.

NSA believes licences should also be readily available in other parts of the UK affected by the massive increase in raven numbers, which has come about due to the bird’s protected status allowing populations to grow with little deterrent or control. As well as impacting sheep flocks, local wildlife is also facing the danger of limited food stocks, endangering prey and ground nesting bird species such as oystercatchers and lapwings.

Ewe & lambs

photo: farm-images.co.uk

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker explains:
“With lambing now finished across the UK, NSA has received reports of very high losses to ravens this year, including flocks in Scotland where 50 to 100 lambs have been killed. Ravens target lambs in vulnerable moments, even striking the very moment they are born, and the loss of a tongue or an eye is a terrible way for these young animals to die. Farmers respect the legislation but must have trust that when species levels reach strong numbers, there can be debate on sustainable levels. Responsible culling under licence will allow farmers to keep on top of the numbers and protect stock when they are at their most defenceless.”

SNH has come under a lot of criticism for its decision and NSA Scottish Region Chairman John Fyall has spoken out in defence of the issue. He says:
“I support the process and decision to issue these licences, and condemn the personal attacks that have been made on SNH Chief Executive Mike Cantlay. It is an emotive issue for campaigners, but nothing is as emotive as seeing a newborn lamb trying to find a teat to feed from its mother with no tongue and no eyes.”

The licence application process is appropriately stringent, with a farmer required to prove the birds have caused or are at high risk of causing serious damage. Mr Stocker says:
“These licences are intended to protect other lifeforms, from wildlife to livestock. They are not going to be given out freely or without proven reason. NSA supports the practice of licencing in this way, as it ensures no action is taken without considered reason. The purpose of protecting a species is to ensure numbers do not fall below dangerous levels, and when positive progress is made and populations boom, options must be provided to prevent unintended consequences on other species of domestic and wild animal.”


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