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Illegal pesticide amnesty scheme launched in wildlife crime crackdown

By Hector MacKenzie

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The illegal poisoning of red kites on the Black Isle sparked outrage. Picture: Dean Bricknel
The illegal poisoning of red kites on the Black Isle sparked outrage. Picture: Dean Bricknel

A SCHEME to get rid of illegal pesticides which could be used to poison wildlife is being launched today.

The scheme will allow those who know, or suspect, they are in possession of certain pesticides which are illegal to dispose of them safely and confidentially.

The widely supported scheme comes in the wake of outrage over the deaths of 22 raptors on the Black Isle last year, amongst them 16 red kites - the majority found to have ingested an illegally held poisonous substance.

Only selected substances will be accepted through the scheme announced today. These include Carbofuran, the most commonly used poison in bird of prey persecution, and other illegal pesticides such as Mevinphos and Strychnine.

Environment Minister, and chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, Dr Aileen McLeod said: “The illegal poisoning of wildlife cannot and will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland. The Scottish Government has made tackling wildlife crime a priority.

"We have the strongest laws on wildlife crime in the UK, including vicarious liability, which was recently successfully used in the courts.

“There were 96 recorded incidents of illegal poisoning abuse involving wildlife in the last 5 years from 2009-2013. It is essential that we remove all substances from the countryside that could kill our wildlife, and that are a risk to people and pets who may accidentally be exposed to them, which is why the Scotttish Government has introduced the pesticide disposal scheme.

“I would encourage people to carefully and safely check sheds and outbuildings for old stocks of illegal substances. While recent incidents have demonstrated that some people are still deliberately using these pesticides to kill wildlife, we also know that in many cases these substances may have been left forgotten and unused for years. Therefore I hope that people will come forward safe in the knowledge that handing over these pesticides will not be seen as an assumption of guilt.

“Those interested in disposing of illegal pesticides should contact the scheme operator on the number provided. We anticipate this will be a short-life scheme, so people should make use of it without delay.”

NFU Scotland Vice-President Rob Livesey said: "Farmers are often unsure who they should turn to should they find chemicals of concern - leading many to leave them where they are. NFU Scotland therefore commends Scottish Government for funding a straightforward and confidential scheme to deal with particularly problematic and now illegal products.

"I would encourage all our members to check their chemical stores. If they find any products that are eligible for disposal via this scheme, they shouldn't hesitate to take action."

Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: "Scottish Land & Estates fully supports this Government-led joint initiative. It is something we have been keen to see happen for a number of years and so it is good this is now in place. This scheme will help anyone who finds themselves still in possession of pesticides, which are now illegal, to dispose of them safely and without fear of prosecution.

“Such substances may have been used in the past for a variety of purposes and can come to light when old sheds are cleared out or indeed during inspection checks when premises are taken over. People now have a safe route to deal with this and it does not mean that anyone who finds themselves in this situation has done anything wrong. These substances are highly dangerous and so this initiative marks another welcome step towards eradicating wildlife poisoning.

“We will be promoting this scheme to our membership and urging them to check if they might still have any of these banned substances and, if they suspect they do, to take advantage of this opportunity to get them removed from their premises and disposed of safely."

Colin Shedden, Director of BASC Scotland said: “Nobody has any reason or right to possess any of the pesticides covered by this disposal scheme. It is in the interest of everyone’s safety, including those who even suspect that they might have banned pesticides, to get in touch and arrange the safe and free disposal afforded by this scheme.”

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said: "We fully support this move and encourage our members to use it. Not everyone knows the status of substances kept in outbuildings and their usage and status may have changed over time. It is sensible to have a safe way for people to dispose of them. The poisoning of animals is a serious offence and something which can not be tolerated. Any programme which helps remove illegal substances from being held has our full support."

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland said: “The poisoning of birds of prey and other protected wildlife species has been rightly banned in Scotland for many years.

"This activity is indiscriminate and has been responsible for the illegal killing of a large number of golden eagles, red kites and other protected raptor species and other wildlife and domestic pets over recent decades. There is absolutely no excuse for this activity, with legal forms of targeted ‘pest’ control available to those who need it. We encourage anybody in possession of banned chemicals to hand these in to the authorities under this scheme.”


Anyone who believes they are in possession of any of these banned pesticides should contact the disposal scheme line on 0131 472 4187. The line is open 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Before calling, users are asked to make a note of which banned pesticides they have, and check whether these are included in the scheme using the guide on the PAW Scotland website. Members of any of the organisations supporting the scheme can also contact them directly for further advice before phoning the disposal scheme line.

The pesticides included in this scheme are highly toxic and many are lethal to humans and animals, even in small quantities. Extreme caution should be exercised if searching premises for banned pesticides; suitable gloves must be worn, and make sure that adequate lighting exists to enable you to assess the condition of the container before touching it.

Some pesticides, such as Mevinphos, can kill merely upon contact with skin. If in doubt, further advice should be sought before any search is carried out. Exposed chemicals or leaking containers should never be touched or moved except by suitably qualified professionals.

The following pesticides will be accepted as part of the scheme:






Sodium cyanide (usually known as Cymag)


Most types of Bendiocarb

Banned or expired formulations of Chloralose, especially those containing more than 5% Chloralose (weaker ready-to-use formulations are still legally sold for indoor rodent control); and banned or expired formulations of Aluminium Phosphide.

Further details of substances that will be accepted, and how to make use of the scheme, are available on the PAW Scotland website – www.PAW.Scotland.gov.uk

The scheme is supported by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and Scottish Land and Estates.

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