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Gamekeeper sentenced for killing multiple protected species

A 60 year-old man who killed wild birds, badgers and an otter has been ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work and given a Restriction of Liberty Order requiring him to stay home between 9pm and 6am for a ten month period.

Alan Wilson, a gamekeeper from Duns in the Scottish Borders, was sentenced at Jedburgh Sheriff Court having pled guilty to nine charges, including killing two goshawks, three common buzzards, three badgers, and an otter.


Other charges involved the setting of illegal snares, possessing illegal pesticides, as well as devices designed to catch raptors along with a number of shotguns, rifles and snares.

All of the offences took place between March 2016 and June 2017 on the Longformacus Estate, Duns. The estate manages land for game bird shooting.

Sara Shaw, Head of Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit said:

“Alan Wilson’s actions amount to a campaign of deliberate criminality involving the illegal killing of a number of protected species.

“He has shown an utter disregard for wildlife laws which serve to protect these species.

“I would like to thank Police Scotland, the Scottish SPCA and RSPB Scotland for their part in investigating and gathering evidence of these abhorrent offences.

“COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice."

The court heard that the offences came to light after a research officer involved in monitoring the use of snares found the carcass of a goshawk hidden near to a trap in Henlaw Wood on 5 May 2017. The RSPB were called and arranged to take the carcass to a veterinary pathologist who established, via an x-ray examination, that the bird had been shot.

Further investigation of the wood on 25 May found the carcass of a badger and other dead birds and Police Scotland and the Scottish SPCA were called in.

The next day they seized the carcasses, a number of snares registered to Wilson and a trap, known as a Swedish Goshawk Trap, which is designed to catch raptors. The carcasses were examined by radiograph, and shotgun pellets were visible in a goshawk and a buzzard.

A search warrant was obtained and executed on 5 June 2017. In the course of the search of Wilson’s home, police officers assisted by Scottish SPCA inspectors found a number of shotguns, rifles and snares. They also recovered an electronic bird caller, decoys, and an Eagle Owl, which is used to attract raptors.

Officers also found a bottle of the banned pesticide Carbofuran and another bottle containing a mix of Carbofuran and Carbosulfan. Carbofuran is a highly toxic pesticide and a single grain the size of a poppy seed can kill a bird. A quarter of a teaspoonful can be fatal to humans.

A simultaneous search was carried out of Henlaw Wood where the remains of a dead buzzard, two badgers and an otter were found along with a cage and 27 snares, of which 23 were illegally set. Shotgun pellets were visible in the x-ray examination of the remains of the otter, buzzard and badgers.