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01 February, 2019

Report finds Scottish raven population healthy

A report published today reveals that raven populations in Scotland are in a healthy condition.

The report, published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), was commissioned to ensure the number of licences issued to control ravens won’t affect the population in the long term.

SNH issues licences to control ravens when they are causing serious damage to livestock, particularly lambs.

There has been an increase in the Scottish raven population of over 50% over the past 20 years, with Scotland holding the majority of the UK raven population.  

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, said: 

‘It’s our job to encourage healthy populations of native species as well as support rural businesses. 

“Ravens can cause serious damage to livestock, particularly lambs.  Where this is a serious problem, and there is no other solution, we issue licences for farmers to shoot and scare the birds. 

“This research shows that the number of ravens killed under licence won’t put the Scottish population at risk. However, we will continue to monitor so we can adjust licence numbers when we need to.”

Andrew Midgley, Environment and Land Use Policy Manager at NFU Scotland said:

“NFU Scotland welcomes the publication of this report. The licencing system provides a very important mechanism through which farmers can seek to prevent wildlife, which is legally protected, from causing serious agricultural damage.

“Farmers apply to SNH for a licence to deal with a problem and it is for SNH to make decisions about granting licences on the basis of its knowledge of the population and species ecology. It is therefore vital that SNH has up-to-date population information.”  

To download the full report, see



Contact the SNH press office on 0131 316 2655 or



Contact information

SNH Media

Notes to editors

Raven licences granted in Scotland, 2013-2016






Number of licences granted





Total no of ravens controlled





All wild birds are protected under law. The estimated breeding population of ravens in Scotland is between 12,512 and 18,768. Under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) all wild birds are protected from killing, injury or capture. It is also illegal to take, damage, destroy, obstruct or interfere with their nests while being built or in use, or their eggs or young. Licences are available to enable people to carry out, for specific purposes, activities that would otherwise be illegal. This includes for the purpose of preventing serious damage to livestock.

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also on Twitter at 

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig




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