Video: Gamekeeper jailed in Scotland for killing bird of prey

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A who trapped and killed birds of prey has been jailed for four months.

George Mutch, 48, was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after being convicted of laying illegal traps and killing a goshawk by hitting it with a stick.

It is the first custodial sentence for the crime of persecuting raptors, or birds of prey, in Scotland.

Mutch was caught following video monitoring by RSPB officials on the Kildrummy estate near Alford in Aberdeenshire in August 2012.

‘Goshawks, in particular, are rare birds. The court heard evidence in this case that there are only about 150 nesting pairs in Scotland,’ said the case’s prosecutor. Photograph: Bernd Zoller/Getty Images/Imagebroker RF

The footage showed that a had been used as a lure in a cage-style trap which had caught a rare goshawk.

Mutch was seen killing the distinctive bird by repeatedly striking it with a stick, the court head.

A second goshawk and a buzzard were also caught in a trap and the gamekeeper was recorded placing them in a sack and carrying them off.

WARNING: This video shows graphic footage of George Mutch killing a goshawk with a stick.

Mutch was convicted of four charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act on December 11.

Sara Shaw, procurator fiscal for wildlife and the environment, said: “Birds of prey are given strict protection by our law.

“Goshawks, in particular, are rare birds. The court heard evidence in this case that there are only about 150 nesting pairs in Scotland.

“It is highly important to preserve Scotland’s natural heritage, including the wildlife that forms part of it. Our environmental laws exist to provide this protection.

“This case involved serious contraventions of those laws. The conviction of Mr Mutch and the severity of the sentence given by the court highlights that message.”

Duncan Orr Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: “This sentence is an historic, landmark result.

“We would like to thank the Crown Office and Police Scotland for helping to bring this case to a successful conviction, as well as the exemplary work of the RSPB Scotland investigations team.

“This penalty should be a turning point, sending a clear message to those determined to flout our laws that wildlife crime will not be tolerated but instead will be treated with the seriousness that it deserves. Wildlife criminals must expect no sympathy from now on.”

Superintendent George MacDonald from Police Scotland said: “Today’s sentence highlights the ultimate consequences of Mutch’s deplorable conduct.

“I do not believe his actions and behaviour reflect the vast majority involved in the various forms of countryside management, most of whom understand the clear lines that should not be crossed in terms of criminal persecution of wildlife.

“Wildlife crime is a priority within a number of communities across Aberdeenshire and Moray. It is a matter we take very seriously and through highly trained and skilled staff, we will always endeavour to piece together what at times can be complex and challenging enquiries.

“We will continue to use advanced investigative and scientific techniques, the support of our local communities and partners to ensure that action is taken against the small minority who persist in such awful actions.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 13 Jan 2015.

 

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Iain Gibson

This is significant progress, but we have a long way to go. Ultimately I believe that the industry involved in killing wildlife for pleasure will have to come to an end before we can reach a satisfactory state, making the countryside safe for people and wildlife. However I'd urge caution in calling for severe sentences along the lines being suggested by some commenters! I share your anger, but we can't compare the killing of a Goshawk with the murder of a human being, and these sort of comments aired publicly can give the wrong impression. Well done RSPB and other… Read more »

Susan Frudd

Shame on such cruelty this man should be given a long sentence and fined along with never being employed as a gamekeeper again. Let us hope we can protect this rare bird from such people and hope it will grow in numbers .

Susan Lee

I advocate the jailing sentences be made at least as long in terms as for any other forms of murder. The rarity of the endangered creatures warrants at least that! Adding a nice hefty fine should be used to help the remaining survivors of the species to hopefully once again flourish.

Sue Lesmond

I advocate that we track these arseholes down and enact the required payback.Vigilantees are magnificent.We do a great job re enforcing payback.

Peter Deelen
Peter Deelen

THIS KIND OF MURDERERS DESERVE TO BE KILLED THAT ARE NOT PEOPLE BUT DEVILS AND THAT NEED TO BE HUNG THE BASTARD!!!!!!!!