A GAMEKEEPER has been banned from keeping birds of prey for 10 years after keeping a massive eagle owl in a cramped pigsty.
The bird, which has a wing span of over six feet, was discovered by cruelty officers last summer.
This week Alan Wilson admitted failing to protect the bird from suffering when he appeared at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.
The court heard how the 59-year-old kept the owl in a filthy boarded-up pigsty at his home at Henlaw Cottages, near Longformacus.
Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told that investigators received a tip-off and found the owl in "utterly unacceptable living conditions" on June 5.
He pleaded guilty to the offence under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006.
Wilson was ordered to sign over custody of the owl to the Scottish SPCA and in addition to the 10 year disqualification, he was fined £400.
An undercover Scottish SPCA spokesman said:"This case involved an eagle owl who had its welfare compromised by being kept in utterly unacceptable living conditions.
"The Scottish SPCA worked in partnership with Police Scotland to seize and rescue the bird as well as providing expertise.
"Both wild and captive raptors can suffer if their welfare falls below that of adequate standards.
"Eagle owls are large, strong predators and like all captive predators require specialist care and expertise.
"The eagle owl is currently being cared for by the Scottish SPCA and is doing well."
Although most eagle owls in the UK are kept in captivity there are believed to be as many as 40 breeding pairs across Scotland, England and Wales.
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
You can also donate via the link above
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports