According to a report in the Press and Journal, on 27 April 2006, a gamekeeper on the Cabrach Estate in NE Scotland shot two buzzards he had caught in a crow trap. He was reportedly filmed shooting them and then burying them down a nearby rabbit hole. The keeper, David Scott, was subsequently charged and due to the seriousness of the offence, the matter was fast-tracked by the Fiscal. He appeared in court in May 2006, pled guilty and was fined a paltry £200 when potentially the fine could have been ten times this level.
Apparently an additional 11 buzzards that had been shot were found buried in rabbit holes near the crow trap, according to the RSPB’s 2006 Persecution Report. These allegations were not mentioned in the court.
Unfortunately this low level of fine totally undermines the good work carried out by the Police Wildlife Crime Officer and the Fiscal in this case. All the more irritating when the Estate involved has been the subject of alleged persecution investigations in the past.
Eight years earlier, police raids in February and March 1998 reportedly revealed widespread poisoning across the estate – 10 rabbits, 6 pigeons, 6 grouse and 2 hares were laced with the lethal poison Carbofuran and laid out on the hill. Three illegal pole traps and an owl whose legs had been smashed by a trap were also reportedly found, along with a dead peregrine in the back of the estate’s landrover. Tests revealed the peregrine had been poisoned with Carbofuran. The head gamekeeper was convicted at Elgin Sheriff Court in October 1998 and was fined £700.
The estate is reportedly owned by multi-millionaire Christopher Moran, a businessman with an interesting past. See here for details.