Gamekeeper found guilty for dumping goshawks
The shooting community is in uproar after an appalling wildlife crime has once again cast a shadow over the country’s gamekeepers
The high-profile investigation into the dumping of five goshawks in a Suffolk car park in January, all of which were found to contain shot, has coincided with a politically turbulent period for the game shooting sector. It recently concluded with the sentencing of a part-time gamekeeper.
Francis Addison, 72, pleaded guilty to 19 charges in relation to the investigation, including possession of dead birds, use of an animal trap in non-approved circumstances and 10 counts of failing to comply with the conditions of shotgun and firearms licences. He was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £1,200 in compensation and costs.
Addison maintains he did not kill the birds, claiming instead that his dog discovered them on a walk and that he took them home with the intention of notifying the British Trust for Ornithology. When he was informed by a friend that it was illegal to be in possession of the birds, he claims that he panicked and returned them to the spot where he had found them.
Despite being green-listed and of least conservation concern both in Europe and globally, goshawks were extremely rare historically, having been almost lost from our shores during the late 1800s. All birds of prey and their nests are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Gamekeeper Liam Bell commented: “The killing of birds of prey is indefensible and goes against everything the fieldsports community stands for. Every single case of illegal and bad practice is another nail in game shooting’s coffin. The most frustrating part of this and other cases like it is that the biodiversity net gains associated with well-run and well-managed shoots are continually being overshadowed by cases such as these. Things are tough enough at the moment, and the last thing we need is people from within our own community needlessly breaking the law and making them harder.”