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Yorkshire gamekeepers convicted

Last modified: 08 February 2008

Adult male sparrowhawk

Image: Dave Curtis (Creative Commons)

Three gamekeepers working on the Snilesworth Estate, near Northallerton, have pleaded guilty to a range of charges relating to the use of cage traps containing live pigeons to take birds of prey. The case was heard at Scarborough Magistrates Court earlier today [Friday 8 February, 2008].

In May 2007, following allegations of traps being set to catch birds of prey, the North Yorkshire Police, supported by the RSPB and RSPCA, visited the Snilesworth Estate, managed by Mr Mark Osborne, of Banbury in Oxfordshire.

James Benjamin Shuttlewood, of Hagg House, Snilesworth, Hawnby, is the headkeeper of the  Snilesworth Estate. A gamekeeper of 20 years experience, Shuttlewood pleaded guilty to five offences, relating to the setting of illegal traps by his subordinates. He was fined £250 for each offence.

Charles Lambert Woof, of Sparrow Hall, Scugdale, Swainby, pleaded guilty to one offence of mis-using a cage trap. He was fined £100.

Eighteen-year old David George Cook, of Ingleby House Farm, Ingleby, Arncliffe, pleaded guilty to two offences of setting cage traps. Cook, who was 17 at the time the offences were commited, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Additionally, the three convicted keepers have each been asked to pay £43 costs.

Commenting on the verdict, Ian West, the head of the RSPB’s investigations team, said: 'The conviction of another three gamekeepers for attempting to kill birds of prey provides further evidence of the lack of tolerance some estates have towards these fantastic birds.'

The estate is part of a network of shooting estates managed by Mr Mark Osborne, of Banbury.

Ian West added: 'As a major manager of shooting estates Mr Osborne has a real opportunity to show leadership and signal an end to the Victorian tradition of intolerance towards birds of prey.'

The illegal killing of birds of prey is a major factor limiting the range and populations of many species across the UK.

How you can help

Birds of prey continue to be mercilessly killed, despite the fact that it is illegal and has been for decades. Please add your name to our online pledge and say 'the killing must stop'.

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