Wildlife And The Natural Environment

One of the final throws of the dice by the outgoing SNP Government, before the Scottish Parliament broke up, was to pass the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

The intention behind the Act was to tidy up existing laws, and to a large extent that has been achieved, but important new measures for those who own or manage land and sporting rights have been introduced. Game licences are finally abolished.

It is difficult in a few lines to summarise a detailed piece of legislation, but the most important provisions which the Act brings into law are as follows:-

Wild Birds

Greater protection is extended to wild birds, which, for the first time, are to include game birds, including prevention of poaching and Areas of Special Protection.

Red Grouse and Game Bird Poults

It is, however, not an offence to catch up red grouse for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and with the intention of releasing them within 12 hours. There is continued protection for game bird poults in pens.


For the first time there are to be close seasons preventing the killing of hares (1 March to 31 July for mountain hares and 1 February to 30 September for brown hares). Killing a hare which is seriously disabled or for the protection of harvested crops, vegetables, fruit, timber, other property or fisheries is permitted in the close season, as is the capture of a hare which is disabled for the purpose of tending to and then releasing it. The sale or possession of wild hares or rabbits killed or taken unlawfully is to be an offence, unless under Licence.


New statutory provisions are introduced requiring those setting snares to be properly trained, to have an identification number (issued by the Police) which is to be tagged securely to snares set by that person. Snares are to be inspected every 24 hours to see whether any animals have been caught by them and that they are free-running. The person with the identification number is to keep a record of the location of snares, the dates on which they were set and the animals caught in them.

A duty is imposed on Scottish Ministers to review the operation and effect of the provisions in relation to snaring no later than 31 December 2016 and then every five years.

Non-Native and Invasive Species (Animals and Plants)

It becomes an offence to release or keep non-native animals and to plant or have in one's possession non-native plants. The Scottish Ministers may, by order, make provision for...

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