Make landowners liable for wildlife offences

Posted on the 12th December 2011

The Scottish Government has passed a law of Criminal Vicarious Liability to ensure that those who direct or turn a blind eye towards the persecution of birds of prey can be held to account by criminal proceedings initiated by the State.

The Scottish Government is struggling with the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of protected prey birds. The environment is a devolved matter and Scotland has grasped the nettle firmly. Its new powers will enable the employers of errant gamekeepers to be prosecuted.

Sadly, the persecution of birds of prey – and other animals – is a far larger problem in England than in Scotland. Yet DEFRA Ministers refuse to countenance a criminal Vicarious Liability law for these crimes, which occur on or adjacent to land managed for shooting interests. Ministers Jim Paice and Richard Benyon are both landowner supporters of hunting and shooting.

Here is your chance to oppose Coalition Government support of cruel blood sports. A Downing Street e-petition has been started by Chrissie Harper (see below). If it gathers 100,000 signatures, the motion will be debated in Parliament.

Please sign the petition

‘Scotland, recognising that those who persecute birds of prey frequently do so at the direction of their employers or others with vested interests, has introduced an offence of vicarious liability, the purpose of which is to bring those parties to justice. This petition calls on the government to introduce an offence of vicarious liability to bring to justice those who direct or turn a blind eye to raptor persecution in England. As an indication of how bad thing are, in the last year only four pairs of hen harriers successfully reared chicks in England, fourteen peregrine falcon territories failed on grouse moors in Lancs forest of Bowland, and only one successful goshawk nest was recorded in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire. Current legislation is not enough to deter those who break the law and destroy our heritage; the introduction of vicarious liability would hit those directing the slaughter.’

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