Bird hobbies thread (news & personal encounters)

Illegal red kite killings described as "outrageous"

INTRO: Police Scotland have described the unlawful poisoning of birds of prey in Dumfries and Galloway as "outrageous". A growing number of red kites, which are a protected species, have been found dead in and around the Stewartry area. Due to their scavenging nature the birds are vulnerable to poisoned baits, and it is thought that the chemicals used may also be harmful to other animals and humans. Officers have described the poisonings as "illegal and totally unacceptable". (MORE)

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Gamekeeper who killed protected birds avoids prison

INTRO: Calls for stiffer penalties for wildlife crime have been made after a Scottish gamekeeper, who killed protected animals via illegal means, received only a community sentence for his actions. Alan Wilson, 60, pleaded guilty in July to shooting and trapping European Badgers, a Eurasian Otter, Northern Goshawks and Common Buzzards, as well as installing 23 illegal snares in a wood on a grouse- and pheasant-shooting estate at Longformacus, near Duns.

On top of this, Wilson – then a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association – also admitted using snares illegally and possessing two bottles of carbofuran, a banned carbamate nerve agent used to poison birds of prey. Sheriff Peter Paterson, sitting at Jedburgh Sheriff Court, said such crimes usually deserved a prison sentence.

However, the Wildlife and Countryside Act allowed sentences of up to six months, and Scottish ministers had recently introduced a presumption against jailing offenders for less than 12 months. "It highlights the difficulties with the legislation," Paterson said. "If it wasn’t for this provision [on short-term sentences] then in my view a custodial sentence would have been appropriate."

He ordered Wilson to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work, imposed a night-time curfew for 10 months and confiscated Wilson's firearms and gamekeeper equipment. Wilson's solicitor, Colin Severin, had told the court that Wilson's wife, who is 80, had dementia and required round-the-clock care. Last year, Wilson was fined £400 and banned from keeping birds of prey for 10 years after admitting he had failed to protect a captive Eurasian Eagle-Owl in his care from suffering. Wildlife experts believe the owl, which was kept in filthy conditions in a pigsty, was used to lure other birds of prey to be killed... (MORE)

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