Ill-considered use of messaging apps and social media has proven to be yet another wildlife criminal’s downfall.
Thirty-eight year old Mark Bond, of Westwood Road, Maidstone, was found guilty of killing a fallow deer and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog after a trial at Maidstone Magistrates Court. Among the evidence offered at the trial were video and voice notes sent via WhatsApp. These included one where he told friends: “That bitch is the best lamping dog I’ve seen in my life. She’s an all-rounder. She killed a fox in minutes and got three foxes in an hour. She is unbelievable.” In another he claimed that his dog had taken a deer and that he would be “eating venison for a week”.
Bond’s WhatsApp messages were found as part of a separate animal cruelty investigation which involved a number of offences against horses, including the abuse of an eight month-old pony at Appleby horse fair.
The cruelty charges related to a badly bitten terrier, for which Mr Bond did not seek veterinary attention.
Mr Bond, who may now face a jail sentence, is not the first wildlife criminal to be caught out by the messaging app. Earlier this year three men in North East Scotland pleaded guilty to charges after police found WhatsApp messages arranging a hare coursing meet. Peter Anderson, Philip Starr and Phillip Wilson were originally spotted by local people who took down their car registration. Police then stopped them and seized their phones which were found to contain both the WhatsApp messages and a video filmed by Starr of a dog coursing a hare. They were sentenced to unpaid work and banned from keeping dogs.
Foreign poachers also caught out
WhatsApp wildlife criminals are not restricted to the UK. Last year in India police officers, following a trail that began on WhatsApp, raided a house in the northern state of Meghalaya where they recovered four live pangolins, 44 kilograms of pangolin scales, a number of rare geckos and two elephant tusks.