Press Release

Gamekeeper pleads guilty to shooting Sparrowhawk on Scottish grouse moor

A gamekeeper has pleaded guilty to shooting a Sparrowhawk whilst employed as a gamekeeper on the Moy Estate, Inverness.

RSPB ScotlandPosted 5 min read
  • Gamekeeper caught by footage taken by RSPB Scotland Investigations team
  • Fined £1500
  • The conservation charity is calling for urgent implementation of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill which will bring in grouse moor licensing, aimed at stopping crimes against birds of prey

At Inverness Sheriff’s Court today (31 March 2023), Rory Parker (24), pleaded guilty to shooting a Sparrowhawk whilst employed as a gamekeeper on the Moy Estate, Inverness.

He is the 56th gamekeeper to be convicted of raptor persecution offences in Scotland since 1990.

The conviction was secured after the incident was directly filmed by RSPB Scotland Investigations staff on 16 September 2021. Footage shows the bird circling overhead, before a gun is raised by the defendant and then the bird is shot out of the sky, before finally being collected by the gamekeeper. A plastic ‘decoy’ owl can be seen close to the gamekeepers position and is most likely being used as a lure to attract live birds of prey to be shot.

A search led by Police Scotland of the suspects address and land on the Moy Estate took place on 19 September 2021 when he was arrested and interviewed.

All birds of prey are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and killing them is against the law, punishable by an unlimited fine and/or jail.

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations for RSPB Scotland, said: “This conviction was the end result of exemplary partnership working between Police Scotland, RSPB Scotland, the Wildlife DNA Forensics team at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture and the Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit of COPFS.

“It is clear, however, with the shooting of a Red Kite on another Highland grouse moor earlier this week, and ongoing investigations into incidents on other estates, that current sanctions appear to be no deterrent to criminal activity by employees of the grouse shooting industry, with their onslaught against protected birds of prey continuing unabated”.

Ian added: “We hope that the Scottish Parliament expedites the passage of laws in the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill introducing proper regulation of that industry, where the right to shoot grouse is dependent on operating within the law”.

Nationally, the RSPB’s recently published Birdcrime report for 2021 found that over two-thirds of confirmed raptor persecution incidents were in relation to land managed for gamebird shooting.