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Gamekeeper poisoned four birds of prey at farm

David Whitfield admitted poisoning the buzzards with chloralose baits at a farm in South Lanarkshire.

Buzzard: The gamekeeper killed four birds of prey with poison.
© STV

A gamekeeper killed four birds of prey with poison on a South Lanarkshire farm.

David Whitfield, who has a previous conviction for failing to free a buzzard trapped in a crow trap, admitted poisoning the birds with chloralose baits.

The 45-year-old sprinkled the poison around Coulter Allers Farm in Biggar, where he was employed as the sole gamekeeper for pheasant and partridge shooting, showed officers the carcasses of four buzzards in varying states of decomposition.

A coffee jar and a bucket containing Alpha Chloralose, which is also used to kill mice, were found at the farm.

On Thursday, Whitefield pled guilty at Lanark Sheriff Court to poisoning the birds.

Area Procurator Fiscal Tom Dysart said:"The use of poison to kill birds of prey is totally unacceptable. David Whitefield had a previous conviction for a similar offence and was well aware of the law and the penalties he faced for breaking it in this manner.

"The Crown will continue to take a robust approach to anyone caught acting in this way. It is of the utmost importance that we protect Scotland's rich natural heritage, and this includes the wildife that live within it."

Whitefield told officers he had sprinkled poison on the baits to reduce the number of buzzards over six months. He initially said to the police his employer, the landowner, was not aware of his actions.

However, after he lost his job at the farm and was evicted from his cottage, he said he had been asked by his employer to reduce the number of buzzards in any way he saw fit, although he had not been specifically told to kill them.

Whitefield has a previous conviction for properly disabling and monitoring a crow cage trap in which a buzzard became caught and was kept for a period of time without food, shelter or water.

Sentence on the former gamekeeper has been deferred for background reports until next month.

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