Scottish Raptor Study Group

Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey

News December 2015

New RSPB report reveals hundreds of raptors have been illegally killed on game-shooting estates in Scotland over last 20 years
17th December 2015
RSPB Scotland has published a detailed 20 year review of the illegal killing of birds of prey in Scotland, which confirms that 779 protected raptors were illegally killed between 1994 and 2014. In total, 468 birds of prey were poisoned, 173 were shot and 76 were caught in illegal traps. There were also seven attempted shootings. The figures include 458 buzzards, 104 red kites, 37 golden eagles, 30 hen harriers, 16 goshawks and 10 white-tailed eagles. 81% of confirmed poisoning incidents were on land used for game-shooting: 57% on grouse moors and 24% on lowland pheasant shoots. RSPB press release here. Read the report here.

Sporting agent Graham Christie convicted of raptor persecution crimes on Cardross Estate under vicarious liability legislation
1st December 2015
A sporting agent from Dunmhor Sporting has become the second person convicted of raptor persecution crime under vicarious liability legislation. Graham Christie leased land on the Cardross Estate in Stirlingshire and employed gamekeeper James O'Reilly, who was convicted of using an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard. Under the WANE Act 2011, Christie is liable for the actions of his gamekeeper. The Crown Office has issued the following press statement:

A self-employed game farmer has pled guilty to wildlife offences, leading to the second conviction in Scotland by vicarious liability for wildlife crime against wild birds.

At Stirling Sheriff Court, Graham Christie was fined a total of £3,200 after admitting his liability for the crimes committed by James O’Reilly, a gamekeeper employed by him.

O’Reilly was previously sentenced to a community payback order after pleading guilty to intentionally trapping and injuring a buzzard, using an illegal gin trap, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Despite veterinary treatment for the severe injury caused to its leg, the buzzard required to be euthanised as it would never be suitable for release back to the wild. The buzzard had been in good condition otherwise.

Graham Christie leased part of the Cardross Estate in Stirlingshire to use for his business, Dunmhor Shooting. He had employed O’Reilly as head game-keeper with responsibility for pest control on this part of the estate.

The offences were committed more than a year after the introduction of the vicarious liability legislation.

The law placed responsibility on Christie unless he could show that he took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent O’Reilly from committing the offences.

When asked by police how he was able to see what was going on ensure everything was done properly and professionally, Christie stated;
Well I can only tell that by the amount of pheasants that were shown on a shoot day and that he was very good to be fair”.

Helen Nisbet, Head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit said:
These offences were committed well after the vicarious liability offence was introduced and the accused had ample time in which to take advice and put appropriate measures in place. He failed in his responsibilities and as a result stands convicted of the killing of a wild bird using an illegal gin trap. Anyone who seeks to injure or kill wild birds and anyone who employs or engages the services of such persons without taking appropriate precautions to prevent these offences being committed can fully expect to be brought to account before the courts.”


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