Gamekeeper fined for killing birds of prey that died ‘suffering’

The remains of an owl and a goshawk were found in the Scottish Borders on September 13 last year.

Gamekeeper fined for killing birds of prey that died ‘suffering’ iStock
The court heard both animals would have experienced considerable suffering.

A gamekeeper has been fined after admitting recklessly killing two birds of prey in the Scottish Borders.

Peter Givens, 53, from Stow in Galashiels, was given a £300 fine at Selkirk Sheriff Court on Monday, November 29.

The remains of the owl and goshawk were found at Cathpair Farm near Stow on September 23, 2020.

The birds had become stuck inside a multi crow cage trap on the edge of woodland.

The court heard both animals would have experienced considerable suffering.

The trap identification number attached to the cage was registered to Givens.

The court heard the animals had been dead for a significant length of time.

Trap licence conditions state that when in use, all traps must be checked at least once every day, with a gap of no more than 24 hours between checks.

Any dead or sickly bird must be removed immediately from the trap.

The owl and goshawk died, after becoming trapped in the cage, from a combination of dehydration, starvation and exposure to the weather elements – experiencing considerable suffering.

Fiona Caldwell, procurator fiscal, wildlife and environment, said: “Peter Givens’ reckless actions and his failure to release these birds unharmed led to their suffering and deaths.

“Wild birds are given strict protection under our wildlife laws and COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”

Wildlife Crime Officer, police constable Steven Irvine, said: “These birds had been dead for some time when they were found inside a cage trap normally used to control crows.

“Individuals who are responsible for setting these style of traps, which are legal when set correctly and the conditions met, should be checking them regularly as part of the General Licence conditions and at least once every 24 hours to free any birds of prey or other non-target species trapped.

“In this case when enquiries were carried out, including forensic testing, it was found they died from severe dehydration as a result of a lack of food and water.

“We will always carry out an investigation when a dead bird of prey is found and I would urge anyone who comes across anything suspicious to call us on 101. Members of the public have an important role to play in helping us to combat all types of wildlife crime.”