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Gamekeeper guilty of bird of prey crime

Last modified: 13 June 2011

Goshawk flying

Image: Guy Monty

A Derbyshire gamekeeper has been found guilty of attempting to illegally trap and kill birds of prey.  

Following a ten-day trial at Chesterfield Magistrates Court, Glenn Brown was convicted today of seven offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, relating to the unlawful use of a cage trap on a grouse shooting estate on the Upper Derwent Valley.

He was sentenced to 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

Brown was originally arrested by Derbyshire Police in May 2010, following a covert surveillance operation by an RSPB investigations team, who filmed the gamekeeper using a cage trap baited with a live domestic pigeon. Although cage traps are legal in certain circumstances for predator control, it is unlawful both to use a pigeon as bait and to capture birds of prey.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Investigations officer, said: 'We welcome this conviction as it sends a clear message that bird of prey persecution remains a serious and orchestrated crime, which continues to steal from society at large. 

'It is vital that Government and the police lead a renewed and concerted effort to protect birds of prey'

'Glenn Brown’s illegal actions have damaged the reputations of both his employer and of the game shooting industry in general.  

'If they are serious about eradicating wildlife crime, both individual employers and the industry’s representative bodies need to do more to ensure that such people have no future in the game shooting business.

'Bird of prey persecution is a UK Wildlife Crime Priority, and it is vital that Government and the police lead a renewed and concerted effort to afford birds of prey the protection they are due. As part of this, the UK Government should introduce a vicarious liability offence to make managers and employers responsible for the actions of their gamekeepers, as is the case in Scotland.'

In the past decade, the RSPB has become increasingly concerned about the poor breeding success of birds of prey in the northern Peak District, (Dark Peak). In 2006, the Society produced the report Peak Malpractice which graphically outlined its concerns in relation to goshawks and peregrines on the north-east Peak moors.

Since then, the breeding success of both species has collapsed in the adjacent Derwent Valley, prompting the undercover investigation leading to this court case.

The RSPB’s Birdcrime 2009 report names Derbyshire as the third worst county in the UK for reported incidents of crimes against birds of prey.

Read Mark Thomas's personal account of this case or watch the BBC's news report.

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    Downloads

    Birdcrime 2009 (2.5Mb)
    Birdcrime 2009 report
    Peak Malpractice (450Kb)
    A report outlining what is happening to birds of prey and other wildlife in the Peak District National Park.

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