A previously convicted gamekeeper has today admitted to poisoning four buzzards with Alpha-chloralose laced baits. At Lanark Sheriff Court, David Alexander Whitefield (45) of Coulter, near Biggar in Lanarkshire, pled guilty to the offences that took place between March and November 2009 at Culter Allers Farm, near Biggar, where Whitefield was employed as the sole gamekeeper for pheasant and partridge shooting. He has reportedly blamed his employer (the landowner), whom Whitefield claims told him to reduce the number of buzzards.
In addition to the four poisoned buzzards found on the shooting estate, a large quantity of Alpha-chloralose was found inside unlocked outbuildings, some of it inside a coffee jar – this extremely hazardous poison could have easily been mistaken for sugar or powdered milk by an unsuspecting visitor. Culter Allers is a popular area for walkers and it is fortunate indeed that no person or pet was poisoned. The buzzards were not so lucky.
This case has been in the works for some time, first reported a year ago and then delayed for legal technicalities (see here, here and here). Sentencing for his latest conviction has been deferred for background reports and will take place in early January. We will watch with great interest.
Whitefield’s previous convictions include failing to ensure the welfare of a buzzard and possession of a buzzard. These offences took place at Culter Allers and he was convicted at Lanark Sheriff Court in September 2008. He received a pathetic £300 fine (see info
Congratulations to the SSPCA for leading this case and for securing a conviction. Let’s hope the Scottish parliament takes heed next year when they’re consulting on extending the powers of the SSPCA for the investigation of wildlife crime.
STV news story about Whitefield’s latest conviction here
BBC news story here