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30 July, 2018

Update on Strathbraan licence to cull ravens

Update on Strathbraan licence to cull ravens: Lapwing-D9762

A report into Strathbraan Community work to support wader populations has been published today by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Earlier this year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) issued a licence to the Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW) to control ravens in order to reduce impacts on nesting waders, which are in marked decline nationally. 

Following concerns, SNH commissioned its Scientific Advisory Committee to review the methodology of the study. The Committee has found it to be inadequate to provide robust scientific conclusions and advised on ways in which the scientific rigour of the study can be improved.

SNH has agreed to ensure these terms are part of any licenced raven control going forward and the SCCW have voluntarily suspended the cull until revised monitoring arrangements are in place.

A specific Scientific Advisory Group will now be created to assist the project and will include members from the SNH Scientific Advisory Committee, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. 

The group will advise on further methods and analytical work required including:

  • Monitoring the full range of factors which could be impacting wader bird numbers and productivity;
  • Developing the way data are collected and analysed – including using cameras to monitor nests;
  • Making sure that the work is linked to the wider conservation programme Working for Waders.

Professor Des Thompson, Principal Scientific Adviser on science and biodiversity at Scottish Natural Heritage, said: 

“Populations of curlew and lapwing in Scotland have more than halved over the past 20 years. We are rapidly reaching crisis point and we need to take action. After all, the Curlew is one of our most rapidly declining of all our breeding bird species in the UK.

“Our Scientific Advisory Committee has provided us with a detailed assessment and very helpful pointers to further work at Strathbraan and more widely. In particular, the Committee notes that more needs to be done to understand the effects of predation by ravens and other factors in driving down wader numbers.

“We need to learn from this trial, and the experience and knowledge gained, and move on to develop advice and support for action on the ground to benefit waders.  Having a Scientific Advisory Group will be a huge help in developing the work.

“SNH welcomes the decision by the Strathbraan Community Group to suspend the cull for the rest of this year.”

Contact information

Carrie Wieteska

Notes to editors

Both the SAC review and SNH's response are available on the SNH website.

MEDIA QUERIES: Carrie Wieteska, / 0131 316 2631

Photo: Lapwing, ©Lorne Gill

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

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