Above – Buzzard: protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 © Shutterstock.com/Erni

 

By Georgina Probert

A GAMEKEEPER WHO was caught on camera beating two buzzards (Buteo buteo) to death has been charged with a suspended prison sentence and fines of more than £1,500.

John Orrey, 63, of Hall Farm Kneeton was sentenced at Nottingham Magistrate’s Court on January 28. Mr Orrey pleaded guilty to four firearms offences and five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which related to the unlawful use of a cage trap, possession of a slash hook, killing two buzzards and possession of two stock doves.

Mr Orrey was caught in the act by a covert camera installed by RSPB investigations fieldworker Tom Grose, who set up the surveillance after a member of the public discovered a live buzzard in a cage trap while out walking near Kneeton in Nottinghamshire.

For each buzzard, he received an 18-week suspended sentence to run concurrently and a £1,000 fine. He was also ordered to pay £650 costs, a £50 victim surcharge and £180 compensation to the Wildlife Forensic Working Group.

Cage traps can only be used under strict licence conditions to control corvids such as crows and magpies. Any non-target species should be released unharmed during daily checks.

Mr Grose explained that when he visited the area in question, he found a buzzard trapped inside. He said: “I released the buzzard due to concerns for its welfare and installed a covert remote camera.”

When he returned a few days later, Mr Grose discovered the shocking footage of Mr Orrey brutally beating another trapped buzzard to death with a slash hook, a bladed tool with a long wooden handle. The following day, he was then seen killing yet another buzzard that had been caught in the cage.

“The killing of these two buzzards – in what appeared to be such a routine way – was truly shocking, even to those like me who deal with raptor persecution almost every day,” added Mr Grose.

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