This story broke a few days ago and has been well covered in the ‘wildlife press’. The poisoning took place two years ago, the keeper lost his house, and now has had the ultimate sanction applied (* cue hollow laugh*) – he was booted out of the Scottish Gamekepers Association! Is it just me or is it possible to detect some exasperation in the SGA’s Alex Hogg’s remarks below that keeper David Whitefield had been caught (and being caught is actually the real news story about raptor poisoning on shooting estates) – Mr Hogg after all appears almost professional at turning a blind eye to what his members get up to, saying in May this year despite numerous convictions proving otherwise that “Professional gamekeepers do not poison raptors”.
I wasn’t going to post this, but it’s the comments below the original press story that makes it relevant. As one commenter, ‘jake2′ writes “…If you get a map of Scotland and put pins in the Estates where many of these killings happen the same names come up time and time again !………THE OWNERS should be prosecuted , not the guy whose house is tied to him doing what he is told….”. There is already a law in Scotland pertaining to vicarious liability and hopefully it will eventually be used, but not in England – and this is EXACTLY what the e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/23089 is trying to achieve, so please support it.
Gamekeeper admits poisoning birds of prey while working at Biggar farm
A GAMEKEEPER has admitted poisoning four birds of prey while employed at
a farm two years ago.
David Whitefield, 45, worked as the sole gamekeeper at Coulter Allers
Farm in Biggar, South Lanarkshire, when he fatally poisoned four
buzzards with chloralose baits between March 5 and November 11 2009.
At the time, Coulter Allers Farm was operating as a pheasant and
partridge shoot for family and private guests.
The decomposing carcasses and poison were discovered after a
multi-agency operation, led by the Scottish SPCA, resulted in a search
of the land and buildings.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Copfs) said Whitefield
pled guilty to a contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,
at Lanark Sheriff Court today.
Area procurator fiscal Tom Dysart, the Copfs lead on wildlife and
environmental crime, said: “The use of poison to kill birds of prey is
“David Whitefield had a previous conviction for a similar offence and
was well aware of the law and the penalties he faced for breaking it in
“Copfs will continue to take a robust approach to anyone caught acting
in this way.
“It is of the utmost importance that we protect Scotland’s rich natural
heritage, and this includes the wildlife that live within it.”
Sentence was deferred until January 5 for background reports.
Bob Elliot, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: “We’re
delighted with the outcome of this case. We now await news of the
sentencing which will take place on January 5, 2012. We hope this will
reflect the serious nature of the offences committed.
“RSPB Scotland is working with the Partnership for Action Against
Wildlife Crime (PAWS) which includes Scottish Government, Scottish Land
and Estates (SLE) and others to bear down on the perpetrators of crimes
against birds of prey.
“It’s high time that such illegal activity which damages Scotland’s
international and domestic reputation was consigned to the history
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said: “The
Scottish Gamekeepers Association can not, and will not, condone anyone
taking the law into their own hands when it comes to wildlife.
“The Scottish Gamekeepers Association will be suspending the membership
of the individual in question with immediate effect.
“Such actions by individuals are totally unacceptable and damage the
reputation of all those who go about their business in the proper way.”