As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Scottish gamekeeper who killed protected birds of prey avoids jail

Campaigners call for stiffer penalties after Alan Wilson given community sentence

A sheriff has criticised Scotland’s weak wildlife crime laws after a gamekeeper convicted of killing protected birds of prey and mammals avoided a prison term.

Alan Wilson, 60, pleaded guilty in July to shooting and trapping badgers, an otter, goshawks and buzzards and installing 23 illegal snares in a small wood on a grouse- and pheasant-shooting estate at Longformacus near Duns.

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.”

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