One of the Queen’s gamekeepers has been fined £500 for setting a trap that caught a tawny owl.
Dean Wright, who works on the Sandringham Estate, near King’s Lynn, Norfolk, admitted committing the offence at Shernborne in December 2005.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – whose patron is the Queen – said it was “disappointing” the offence had been committed on a royal estate. Wright, 26, of Anmer, Norfolk, appeared at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court.
He had denied causing unnecessary suffering to the owl caught in the trap and the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to pursue that charge.
Ian West, head of investigations for the RSPB, said: “High standards are expected of people working as professional gamekeepers on estates.”
Prosecutors said Wright had lawfully set the trap for a rat, but committed an offence by not covering it to prevent birds getting in. The owl had to be put down because of a leg injury it suffered.
Ian Mayers, for Wright, said the gamekeeper had apologised to the court and his employers.
But district judge, Philip Browning, said: “It is still not clear to me why you uncovered the trap. What you did was unwise.”
Wright, one of 14 gamekeepers on the 20,000-acre estate, would keep his job but would be disciplined by his employers, the court was told.