Gamekeeper sentenced for 'large scale eradication' of wildlife on Scottish estate

Alan Wilson was convicted of killing buzzards, badgers, goshawks and an otter. Picture: Getty Images
Alan Wilson was convicted of killing buzzards, badgers, goshawks and an otter. Picture: Getty Images
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A gamekeeper who illegally killed wild birds, badgers and an otter has been sentenced to more than 200 hours of unpaid work.

Alan Wilson, from Duns in the Borders, was sentenced at Jedburgh Sheriff Court after pleading guilty last month to nine charges, the Crown Office said.

He was convicted of killing of three common buzzards, three badgers, two goshawks and an otter.

The 61-year-old was 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 10-month period.

Sara Shaw, head of the 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."

She added: "COPFS (The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice."

The incidents took place between March 2016 and June 2017 on the Longformacus Estate in Duns, which manages land for game bird shooting.

Other charges included setting illegal snares, possessing illegal pesticides and other devices designed to catch raptors as well as shotguns and rifles.

An undercover Scottish SPCA investigator said: "This is a despicable case of serious and systematic crimes to indiscriminately remove wildlife from an estate.

"The sheer volume of dead wildlife discovered is truly shocking.

"The successful prosecution of Mr Wilson sees some form of justice served and the Scottish SPCA's special investigations unit were happy to lend our expertise on wildlife crime to support this multi-agency effort."

The investigator added: "The illegally-set snares across the estate he was managing would have trapped wild animals indiscriminately and the remains discovered were proof of that.

"This amounted to large-scale eradication of wildlife. We will never know the total number of animals which perished due to Mr Wilson.

"Had it not been for the robust intervention of Police Scotland, the Scottish SPCA and our other partner agencies, many more would have suffered and perished."

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association confirmed Wilson's membership would be terminated.

A spokesman said: "The actions, in this case, are a gross breach of our organisation's wildlife crime policy.

"They reflect negatively on the reputation of the entire profession, are unacceptable and entirely out of step with what we expect of our members' conduct.

"We will be terminating the individual's membership of the SGA with immediate effect."

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