from Sunday Herald, 23 January 2000
A long and bitter battle by landowners, gamekeepers and pigeon-fanciers to legalise the killing of birds of prey is about to blow up in their faces. A five-year government investigation will next month comprehensively reject their demands to be allowed to control the rare birds by shooting them.
In fact the investigation, which was originally prompted by high-level lobbying of ministers by landowners, will call for a crackdown on the many estates which illegally poison and persecute birds of prey. It will also dismiss claims that falcons, hawks and harriers are to blame for decimating populations of gamebirds, racing pigeons and songbirds.
A report on the investigation - which has been leaked to the Sunday Herald - is due to be published by the Scottish Executive's conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), on 4 February. "It is dynamite," says one source familiar with its contents. "It completely demolishes the arguments used in favour of culling birds of prey."