A 67-year-old waterfowl enthusiast has been sentenced for killing multiple birds of prey and other birds.
Barry Nicolle, who runs a wildfowl breeding farm, admitted the indiscriminate use of banned poisons at Dumfries Sheriff Court.
It is believed to be the first conviction in which multiple birds of prey have been killed with poison.
Nicolle was given a community payback order and ordered to carry out 216 hours of unpaid work.
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He also pled guilty to possession of several highly toxic pesticides, using a crow trap illegally and an air weapon licensing offence.
Between May 2019 and February 2020 Nicolle laced bait with banned pesticides at sites in Springholm and Kirkpatrick Durham in Dumfries and Galloway.
He also placed poisoned bread on fence posts around his land which is about 150m (164 yards) from Springholm Primary School.
It was done to attract and kill scavengers in a bid to protect his own collection of exotic and ornamental waterfowl from a perceived threat.
Speaking after the sentencing, Fiona Caldwell, of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “Barry Nicolle’s actions led to the illegal killing of multiple red kites and rooks.
“The laying of bait laced with poisons was shockingly irresponsible and Nicolle has shown an utter disregard for the wildlife laws which serve to protect these species.”
The court heard that numerous reports of suspicious deaths of red kites in the Kirkpatrick Durham and Springholm areas were made to Police Scotland, RSPB and Scottish SPCA inspectors by members of the public.
Several red kite were found lying motionless on the ground in a distressed state and had to be euthanised.
Ten poisoned rooks were discovered on the grounds of Springholm Primary School.
Risk to children
Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, said: “The placing of poison baits out in the open is illegal, dangerous and indiscriminate.
“It is exceedingly fortunate that Nicolle’s repeated actions did not result in serious injury to a young child.”
Det Insp Dean Little added: “Scotland’s wildlife is one of its greatest attractions, which is especially true in our local area.
“Nicolle’s reckless use of illegal poison was not only selfish and damaging to the birds it killed, but also posed a risk to the environment and members of the public who came across them.”