Buzzard captor given community payback order
A gamekeeper who used an illegal trap to capture wild birds on the Cardross Estate has been given a community payback order and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.
James O’Reilly was sentenced at Stirling Sheriff Court yesterday, after having plead guilty to four charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
A man walking his dog on the estate called the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) after finding a distressed and injured buzzard caught in an illegal trap.
The SSPCA went on to identify a number of snares in the area, which did not have identification tags as required by law.
The estate is often visited by common buzzards, red kites, goshawks and white tailed eagles.
A search warrant for Mr O’Reilly’s house was obtained and executed on 4 April 2013, which also led to the discovery of a snare containing decomposed fox parts next to a pheasant pen near to his home address.
It was apparent that a fox had become snared and the accused maintains that he shot the fox after it had become trapped, and left the carcase lying.
Staff at the Scottish Agricultural College confirmed that the fox caught in the snare had been there for more than 24 hours and possibly from the back end of 2012.
The buzzard was examined by a veterinary surgeon who found it had a severe injury to the right leg just above the foot.
He commented that the injuries would have been extremely painful for the bird and would have taken several days to occur.
Treatment was provided to the bird but its condition deteriorated and the bird was euthanized on welfare grounds as it would never be suitable for release back into the wild.
Helen Nisbet, deputy head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, said: “Birds of prey are given strict protection by our law.
“It is highly important to preserve Scotland’s natural heritage, including the wildlife that forms part of it. Our wildlife laws exist to provide this protection.
“This case involved serious contraventions of those laws.
“COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”