From Wildlife Extra:
A gamekeeper, found guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in December of illegally killing a goshawk, illegal use of a trap, and illegally taking away another goshawk and a buzzard, has been jailed for four months.
George Mutch is believed to be the first gamekeeper in Scotland to be given a custodial sentence for wildlife crimes.
Mutch was caught on footage taken by hidden cameras between August and September 2012.
These had been set up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to monitor how traps were being used on the Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire, where Mutch was the gamekeeper.
In the film Mutch was seen killing a young goshawk by removing it from the trap and hitting it with a stick. He was also filmed putting a buzzard and a goshawk into white sacks and walking out of view.
Mutch claimed the traps were for catching small birds to stop them from eating food scattered on the ground for young pheasants. However, some of the footage showed him taking a wood pigeon out of a trap and releasing it.
Duncan Orr Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: “We would like to thank the Crown Office, Scottish SPCA 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.”
Sara Shaw, the Scottish Procurator Fiscal for wildlife and environment, issued a statement: “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.”
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has expelled Mutch from its membership.