The Scottish Government should allocate new investigative powers to the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA).
That’s the opinion of animal protection charity OneKind who believe the new powers would help the SSPCA to tackle the growing problem of wildlife crime.
OneKind is making the calls as a Scottish Government consultation, which is considering proposed new powers for the Society, draws to a close.
At present, in addition to their role in rescuing animals and relieving suffering, Scottish SPCA Inspectors have powers to investigate suspected offences against domestic animals.
Under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, Inspectors can obtain warrants to enter houses in relation to animal welfare offences involving pets, farmed animals and captive wild animals.
If an Inspector finds a live animal captured in an illegal trap or snare, he or she can exercise powers under the same Act.
But under wildlife legislation – the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – if there is no live animal involved, the Inspector has no powers to act and must call for police assistance before the offence can be investigated.
OneKind’s policy director, Libby Anderson, said: “The current situation is ludicrous and actually prevents Scottish SPCA investigators investigating offences which have caused the death of an animal.
‘‘In other situations, such as reports of dozens of illegal traps or snares, if there is no animal to be seen, the Society can’t investigate.
‘‘This is despite having some of the most knowledgeable and well-equipped people in the field.”
The Scottish Government is considering allocating powers to the SSPCA which would enable Inspectors to be able to enter land and gather evidence in connection with wildlife crime.
SSPCA conviction rates for animal offences are consistently higher than that of police.