A gamekeeper found guilty of killing 10 buzzards and a sparrowhawk with pesticide has received a 10 week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £930 in costs. Why suspended? To my mind it sends out the message that wildlife crime is not real crime. If the grim haul found at his farm is anything to go by then this man was probably responsible for the deaths of hundreds of creatures.
However, Judge Peter Veits it seems, is also frustrated that the law does not allow for prosecution of the landowners as well as the gamekeepers.
In sentencing he said, “Those who employ gamekeepers have a strict duty to know what is being done in their name and on their property. They also have a duty to ensure that their gamekeepers are properly trained and capable of keeping abreast of the complex laws relating to the use of poisons.
“In other industries, employers as well as the employee could be facing prosecution in such cases and I hope therefore that this case can serve as a wakeup call to all who run estates as to their duties.” He added, “It is clear that the buzzard population in Norfolk is increasing and this is something to be applauded and not seen an inconvenience by those who choose to run shoots.”
It seems that only when landowners and gamekeepers are handed sentences which truly act as punishment will the rogue elements of the shooting community take these offences seriously.