George Mutch, a 48-year-old gamekeeper from Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire, has been sentenced to four months in jail after being found guilty of killing a goshawk and setting illegal traps to catch two others.
George Mutch, a 48-year-old gamekeeper from Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire, has been sentenced to for four months in jail after being found guilty of killing a goshawk and setting illegal traps to catch two others.
At Aberdeen Sheriff Court today Sheriff Noel McPartlin said he had to impose a sentence which would act as a deterrent to others who target birds of prey. The case was one of the first in Scotland in which hidden camera footage, obtained by the RSPB, had been used to help secure a conviction.
Duncan Orr Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: “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.”
A spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, of which Mutch was formerly a member, issued a statement today, saying: “The SGA has taken the ultimate sanction available to it, as an organisation. Mr Mutch will no longer hold SGA membership. The court has made its decision and Mr Mutch will now have to live with the consequences of his actions.
“On the wider general issue of wildlife crime in Scotland, there are many organisations united in ending wildlife crime, ourselves included, although some some would like to achieve that same worthy goal in different ways.
“While committed to ending wildlife crime, the SGA hopes one day to see an enlightened approach where criminal sentences are part of a package which also includes empowering people with legal tools and alternatives to deal with conflicts which can affect both their businesses and wider conservation. Only the most blinkered will fail to grasp that new adaptive measures to tackle conflicts are sorely needed, to meet modern realities.
“Currently the SGA feels this part of the package is lacking and there are insufficient legal tools available to people experiencing genuine conflicts; people who want to resolve them in a scientific manner which balances both economics and conservation.
“As an organisation, the SGA will continue to campaign for these legal alternatives to be made available so that wildlife crime can be tackled at its root and can therefore be ended in Scotland.”