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25 February, 2017

SNH report on game bird hunting published today

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published a report comparing the game bird hunting regulations in 14 European countries.

This report reviews regulations on game bird hunting in 14 European countries. It focuses specifically on the legal controls on game bird hunting, including licensing and permitting arrangements, as well as on the requirements for monitoring, protecting and managing game birds.

The report found that all 14 countries regulate game bird hunting through legislation, including licensing individual hunters, with the strictest requiring harvest quotas and bag reporting. All 14 countries are able to revoke hunting licences if the legislation is contravened and most also penalise serious breaches of hunting law. In many of the countries examined, hunters must pass a two-part practical and theoretical examination in order to qualify for a hunting licence.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said:

“I welcome the publication of this report. It shows that there is more regulation of gamebird hunting in many other countries than we have in Scotland. We will be looking very carefully at these different management approaches to see whether they offer the means to address issues such as raptor persecution.

“Already we have committed to a number of new measures to tackle wildlife crime within Scotland including; increases in criminal penalties, a prevention review and the creation of a dedicated investigative support unit within Police Scotland. These measures clearly demonstrate our resolve to tackle raptor persecution.

“This new report and the forthcoming review of satellite tagging data will help determine our next steps.”

SNH chairman, Ian Ross, added:

“This review provides an in-depth look at how other countries in Europe control game bird hunting to make sure it’s safe and sustainable. It can also inform our thinking on tackling wildlife crime.”

The Scottish Government requested this report as part of a package of work to tackle wildlife crime and, particularly, the illegal killing of raptors. It also forms part of an ongoing, broader discussion about how land is owned and managed for public benefit.

The 14 countries reviewed were Germany, Norway, Sweden, Spain, France, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Finland, Romania, Estonia, Bulgaria, and Denmark.

In Scotland, game birds can be shot during their open season, which vary according to the species. Other than the firearms legislation, which provides the necessary control for access to firearms, there is actually very little regulation associated with hunting game birds.

Read the full report at .

SNH is committed to preventing wildlife crime and improving biodiversity throughout Scotland. The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Route Map was published by Scottish Government in June 2015. It sets out the major steps needed to implement the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy 2020 Challenge, including restoring ecosystems, conserving wildlife, and sustainably managing land, freshwater and the marine environment.


Media queries – contact Vicki Mowat, SNH media & public relations officer at or 0131 316 2659

OR contact Charlotte Gosling, Media Manager, Scottish Government, at or 0131 244 2614


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 now on Twitter at 

Game birds refer to reared pheasants, partridges, grouse (or moor game), black (or

heath) game or ptarmigan.

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SNH Media

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

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