A poultry farmer in the Borders who shot a buzzard, claiming he had mistaken it for a carrion crow, has been fined £600.
Michael Harrison, 70, of West Linton, Peebleshire, who runs an egg production facility, told Sheriff Jamie Gilmour at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday, “I just made a mistake. I shot at this crow and it came down, but when I saw it was a buzzard, I was mortified. I was born in the countryside and brought up on a farm. All my life I have been a wildlife supporter”.
Harrison had pled guilty under the Wildlife & Countryside Act to ‘intentionally or recklessly’ shooting the buzzard in November 2014. He also pled guilty to injuring the buzzard by standing on its wing – presumably in an attempt to ‘control’ it when he realised the bird was still alive. The buzzard’s injuries were too severe for it to survive and it had to be euthanised.
Sheriff Gilmour said he would reduce the fine from £900 to £600 because of Harrison’s early guilty plea and allowed seven days for payment. He told Harrison: “It is important you identify your quarry. That is an important part of shooting”.
It’s farcical that a buzzard could be mistaken for a carrion crow, especially if it’s in close enough range for it to be shot and especially if the person pulling the trigger claims to have been born and brought up in the countryside and should therefore be capable of basic bird identification skills. In light of this conviction, presumably Police Scotland will not renew Harrison’s shotgun certificate? Yeah, right.
Well done to the SSPCA for their prompt investigation of this crime, which was crucial to gather evidence, and to the Crown Office for a successful & speedy prosecution, leading to a rare conviction for the actual shooting of a protected species. The penalty, as usual, is at the low end of the scale (max penalty of £5,000 and/or six month custodial sentence).