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Public urged to take extra care to safeguard wildlife

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Public urged to take extra care to safeguard wildlife

PEOPLE who take part in activities such as mountain biking, water sports, angling and wild camping in Scotland’s forests are being urged to think about how their hobby could negatively impact wildlife and the environment.

The call comes from Forestry & Land Scotland (FLS) who have launched a campaign, “Protect Scotland’s Wildlife”, to coincide with the start of the main bird breeding and nesting season.

It aims to raise awareness of the unintended consequences- even harm – that can be caused to wildlife and the environment by people participating in activities in Scotland’s forests and wild places, without taking sufficient care.

Research by FLS found that 59 per cent of those surveyed admitted they’re not aware of the breeding and nesting seasons of birds and other wildlife in the areas they visit.

Also, four in 10 said they don’t stick to designated paths and tracks; 41 per cent hadn’t considered the impact of lighting fires; and nearly half don’t think about how much noise they’re making so that they don’t disturb wildlife nor how close they get to wildlife when taking photos.

Finally, 36 per cent have witnessed or taken part in behaviour that looking back on it, might have been harmful to wildlife.

FLS revealed they are aware of several instances of ospreys becoming tangled in cut fishing line; disturbance caused to forest raptors such as buzzard, sparrow hawk, red kite and goshawk from unofficial bike tracks; disturbance of waterbird species and nests; pollution of the environment and potentially also watercourses; and accidental grass fires by wild fires.

National environment manager Colin Edwards has asked people to be mindful of the potential for causing disturbance and harm, when they’re out and about. He said: “Enjoy yourself in Scotland’s forests and wild places but please be mindful of how your actions impact on birds, animals and sensitive habitats.

“Help us to protect what we’ve got, before it’s gone and always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – ‘leave no trace’, take responsibility and don’t linger if wildlife is disturbed by your presence.

“None of us set out to deliberately cause harm but sometimes it can be thoughtless behaviour that can cause problems that then ripple out.”

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