The National Sheep Association (NSA) said some Scottish flocks had between 50 and 100 lambs killed by ravens this year alone.
Industry leaders have backed a decision by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to keep up its localised raven cull in a bid to help curb the number of newborn lambs attacked in the field.
Calling for the granting of more licences, the National Sheep Association (NSA) said it was a necessary measure to ‘responsibly reduce’ the number of ravens which it said had seen a massive increase in numbers due to its protected status.
Licences should also be readily available in other parts of the UK, it added.
The debate reignited controversy on the back of parliamentary answers by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham last month when she suggested SNH had issued 439 licences permitting the cull of 3344 ravens since 2016.
Animal campaigners blasted the move but the NSA said as well as impacting sheep flocks, local wildlife was facing the ‘danger of limited food stocks’.
NSA Scottish region chairman John Fyall said: “It is an emotive issue for campaigners but nothing is as emotive as seeing a newborn lamb trying to find a teat to feed from its mother with no tongue and no eyes.”
The NSA said it supported SNH’s way of licensing as it ensured no action was taken ‘without considered reason’.
“NSA has received reports of very high losses to ravens this year including flocks in Scotland where 50 to 100 lambs have been killed,” NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said.
“Farmers respect the legislation but must have trust that when species levels reach strong numbers, there can be debate on sustainable levels.
“The purpose of protecting a species is to ensure numbers do not fall below dangerous levels, and when positive progress is made and populations’ boom, options must be provided to prevent unintended consequences on other species of domestic and wild animals.”
SNH head of wildlife operations Robbie Kernahan said the government issued licences on a regular basis ‘to protect livestock from raven attacks during lambing season’.
“Before issuing any licence we must be satisfied there will be no detrimental overall effect on the species concerned. This is the case with all licenses relating to the raven population,” he added.
The SNH grants raven cull licences in the Strathbraan area of Perth and Kinross.