Roger Venton a Shropshire head gamekeeper today escaped a jail term after admitting using an illegal trap and allowing another keeper to illegally catch birds of prey.
Roger Venton, 34, now living in Elvington, North Yorkshire, was today sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, at Telford Magistrates Court.
The former head gamekeeper on the Kempton Estate, near Craven Arms, admitted using a spring trap and permitting assistant keeper Kyle Burden to use a cage trap to illegally catch birds of prey, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The caged trap was baited with a raven.
Burden had kept a diary which suggested that last year 102 buzzards, 40 badgers, and 37 ravens were killed on the estate, where guns can pay nearly £10,000 a day to shoot.
The court heard Venton was employed as head gamekeeper at the estate in March last year, where Burden, 19, of Kempton, worked.
Geoffrey Dann, prosecuting, said the 6,000-acre estate was home to a pheasant and partridge shoot.
He told the court the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) was contacted by two seasonal gamekeepers employed at Kempton who reported the illegal killing of protected wildlife including buzzards and badgers.
Investigators went to the estate last July and found a pole trap – a spring trap placed on top of a tall pole – which was made illegal in 1904.
Cage traps are allowed in some circumstances, providing the bait is well looked after, and should not be used where they could trap birds of prey.
Further RSPB investigations found a pole trap – a spring trap placed on top of a tall pole – made illegal in 1904 as a risk to raptors.