Everyone condemns the illegal killing of birds of prey, but still it keeps happening.

Evidence repeatedly emerges that eagles, red kites and other wild birds are disappearing on moorlands that are managed to make money from shooting red grouse. Across upland Scotland there are black holes that seem to swallow up raptors so they can’t prey on the grouse.

Conservationists cry foul, but gamekeepers insist it wasn’t them. The same old arguments have been bitterly rehearsed year in, year out, without much sign of resolution.

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The Scottish Government has been trying to bring all sides together under a Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAWS). But, as today’s report from the Scottish Parliament’s environment committee makes clear, this has been riven with distrust and division.

That doesn’t mean that ministers should give up on PAWS. There is always value in trying to get sworn antagonists to talk to each other.

But Scotland now needs a new, tough and reasoned approach. The environment minister, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, has promised to consider growing calls for game bird shooting to be licenced.

This would mean that landowners wanting to earn income from shooting parties would have to apply to the government for permission. If they were suspected of persecuting birds of prey, their licences could be refused or withdrawn.

That seems an eminently sensible plan – and it might actually be effective in curbing wildlife crime.