Gamekeepers condemn raptor killings

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The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association has condemned the killing of birds of prey.

The move comes following the prosecution of one of its former members, Finley Bell, of Whithorn, for poisoning a buzzard after it killed one of his pheasants.

Bell was hit with a £4450 fine last month after admitting the charge. He was also kicked out of the SGA and told he would not be allowed to rejoin.

The SGA announcement also follows the news of new measures to tackle raptor persecution announced by Scotland’s Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

The SGA said: “Any efforts to target those guilty of illegal practices are wholeheartedly welcomed by the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. The wrongful actions of the few do damage to the wildlife of Scotland and to the reputations of the vast majority of gamekeepers and game managers who operate responsibly and with care for nature in Scotland.

“The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association also welcomes the minister’s emphasis on the Scottish legal system to impose the appropriate sanctions in these cases.

“As the minister himself notes, ‘trial by leak and accusation’ and trial by media have compromised due legal process too often in recent years; achieving nothing of benefit to Scotland’s wildlife and serving only to widen conflicts and discredit individuals and groups.

“The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association trusts, from the minister’s statement, that those given greater muscle to investigate wildlife crime will be able to do so without having their work in active cases compromised.

“We also trust that those selected to assist investigations will be demonstrably impartial, as in all other areas of law.

“Should this be the case, those guilty of wildlife crime will be punished accordingly and, importantly, a basis for more effective partnership working will be established going forward.”