Buzzards are a protected species. Photo: Lorne Gill/Scottish Natural Heritage

Buzzards are a protected species. Photo: Lorne Gill/Scottish Natural Heritage

A former gamekeeper on as Stirlingshire estate has been sentenced to a community order after a buzzard was found in a trap.

James O’Reilly, 50, was found guilty of four offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The bird was so severely injured it had to be put to sleep after the incident. O’Reilly, who was a gamekeeper on the Cardross Estate at the time of the offences, was sentenced to a 240-hour community payback order on each of the charges.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “O’Reilly’s crimes came to light when dog walkers on the estate came across a buzzard caught in a trap.

“It would appear that the buzzard came down to feed on the deer carcass and walked on to the trap, which closed over one of its legs causing severe injuries.

“The Scottish SPCA took the bird for veterinary treatment but due to the extent of the injury it had to be euthanised. Not only did police find illegal traps in the area but they also identified a number of illegal snares, one of which had the barely identifiable remains of a fox carcass inside.”

PC Malcolm O’May, Forth Valley Division wildlife crime liaison officer, said: “Crimes of this type are notoriously difficult to detect and throughout this investigation we were assisted by various partner agencies in what turned out to be a very complex and protracted enquiry.

“It is only by working with our wildlife crime partners that we can achieve successful outcomes like this. This said we may not have even known about the crimes had it not been for those members of the public who were vigilant and promptly reported what they had found.

“I am extremely grateful for their assistance and the efforts they made in attempting to preserve the birds life.”

  • Police appealed for information after the discovery of an illegally trapped red kite on moors west of Stirling this month.

The bird also had to be put down because of the severity of its injuries.

The kite was found in distressed and seriously injured on Wednesday, 13 May.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “This was clearly an intentional act with the sole purpose of trapping this type of bird of prey. It was a very specific act for a very specific purpose.

“Police Scotland’s Specialist wildlife crime liaison officers are investigating and working closely with landowners, the RSPB and the Scottish Raptor Study Group to identify those responsible.

“We are asking people who live and work in the area, or who may have been visiting to come forward if they saw anything or if they have any information that may help catch those responsible.”

Information can be given in confidence by contacting Police Scotland on 101. Alternatively, members of the public can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online.

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