This week saw two high profile court cases relating to illegal poison and the killing of a bird of prey on Highland estates result in hefty fines for the estate employees.
A massive quantity of banned substance, Carbofuran, was found on the Skibo Castle estate near Dornoch in May 2010 during a police serach after two golden eagles and a sparrowhawk were found dead on the estate. Inverness Sherrif Court heard that estate worker, Dean Barr had enough of the poison to, “wipe out the entire Scottish golden eagle and red kite populations several times over according to the RSPB”. Barr, whom the court accepted had played no part in the deaths of the protected birds, was fined £3,300 for possession of 10kg of the banned insecticide which he had brought with him from a previous job in the Scottish Borders. The court was told that had Barr been found responsible for the birds’ deaths he would have been facing a jail sentence.
In another case, which also followed a high profile police search, this time of the Moy Estate near Inverness, a former apprentice gamekeeper, James Rolfe, was fined £1,500 for the death of a red kite. The defendant said that he had found the bird dead in a trap set for stoats or weasels and that he retrieved it and did not inform anyone until he was found with it in his vehicle during the police search. The red kite had not been poisoned. Commenting on the case RSPB Scotland said the sheriff had sent out “a clear message” that society would not tolerate “reckless and deplorable behaviour in the countryside”.