SHU Secretary, Linda Brooks and Dr Philip Lynch met on Tuesday with Mike Russell, Environment Minister at Holyrood. The Minister had good news at last for pigeon fanciers in Scotland beleaguered by sparrowhawk attacks. The trials on trapping and relocating sparrowhawks that were cancelled this spring will now begin this Autumn and continue into Spring 2009.

The Minister has been assured that we have the full co operation of Scottish Natural Heritage who will work in partnership with us on the project and we look forward to the trials getting underway.

A copy of the letter of confirmation from the Scottish Government appears below:

31 July 2008

Dear Linda


I am writing to confirm the points agreed in relation to the sparrowhawk trial when you and Dr Lynch met with Mike Russell on 29 July.

Mr Russell told you that he had discussed the project with SNH and had a clear commitment from them that they would support and contribute to a research project to compare the relative effectiveness of trapping and relocating sparrowhawks and deterrence as means of reducing predation on racing pigeons.

I can confirm therefore, in line with this commitment, it is our intention to issue the necessary licences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to allow the trapping and relocating of sparrowhawks for the purposes of this research project.

You made clear your preference for the research project to commence before the end of this year. We noted that SNH think that a commencement date in January would allow more time for the project to be properly established so that it will produce credible and robust results. However we agreed that the precise timing of the project should be determined in discussion between yourselves and SNH.

We also noted that you had limited funds to contribute to this project. You agreed that you would provide a similar contribution to that you had previously offered towards the project that had been planned for earlier this year.

Yours faithfully

Hugh Dignon