A gamekeeper on a Highland estate has been fined £1,500 for attempting to snare rare birds of prey.
Stuart Kennedy, who works on the Farr Estate in Tomatin, Inverness-shire, was found guilty of laying traps to catch peregrine falcons and goshawks.
The 37-year-old was convicted at Inverness Sheriff Court at the end of a trial which lasted two years.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: “It is time shooting estates moved into the 21st century.”
Sheriff Donald Booker-Milburn found Kennedy, of Dalcrossie Cottage, Strathdearn, Tomatin, guilty on two charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The first charge stated that he set a crow cage funnel trap in Kyllachy with the intention of snaring peregrine falcons and goshawks.
He used the trap with the funnel open, the door wired shut and two live feral pigeons set within the trap as bait.
The second accused him of possessing nine gin traps, which can snare wild birds and mammals such as foxes and wild cats, for criminal purposes.
RSPB species protection officer Keith Morton said: “We are very encouraged that the sheriff imposed a substantial penalty, as this will highlight the seriousness of this offence.
“Crow cage traps are illegal in many countries. They are currently a legitimate form of pest control that is easy to disguise illegal activity.
“We would encourage the Scottish Executive to speed up their review on the use of such traps.”
He added: “It will be interesting to see the reaction of the estate. We suspect there is a great deal of support about this activity among some employers.”
Source : BBC News