An amateur gamekeeper has been given a 70-day jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after he pleaded guilty to three charges related to the killing of seven buzzards.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard that Colin Burne, 64, an amateur gamekeeper for a small shooting syndicate near Penrith in Cumbria, had been seen in CCTV footage killing two buzzards by beating them with a stick.

The buzzards were in a cage trap, which had been found in February by members of the public on land managed by the Cliburn Shoot in Whinfell Forest. The RSPB was informed and investigations officers set up a covert camera near the site. A search of the trap site by officers from Cumbria Constabulary and the RSPB revealed the remains of many other buzzards, which indicated that birds were regularly killed at the site. Burne admitted to killing five further birds.

When he passed sentence, Judge Gerald Chalk told the defendant: “I want people to understand that this type of conduct will result in a prison sentence.” The sentence was suspended, however, because Burne is suffering from terminal cancer.

The rest of this article appears in the 17th July issue of Shooting Times.

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