Now THAT’S a deterrent!

rk poisoned (redkitenet)A farmer in Spain has been found guilty of laying out poisoned baits and poisoning at least 11 red kites, five dogs, six foxes, a cat, a raven, a buzzard and four vultures.

His sentence? Two years in prison, two years disqualification from farming or any other profession relating to animal husbandry (post release), four years disqualification from hunting (post release), a fine of 90,270 Euros plus an additional fine of 28,500 Euros to be used specifically to monitor red kites in the local area for the next three years (see here).

Now THAT’S a deterrent!

Spain is one of several European countries way ahead of the game when it comes to tackling raptor persecution. Amongst other measures, they have a dedicated dog unit that utilises specialist sniffer dogs trained to detect poison and poisoned baits. These dogs are so good they can even detect the location where a poisoned bait has been laid previously but has since been removed. These dog units are not just deployed to a site of a suspected incident; they are routinely deployed to undertake spot checks wherever they want and whatever time they want. There’s none of this ‘you need landowner permission’, or ‘you need a warrant’.

Remember this the next time you hear the Scottish Government or the UK Government say they are tackling raptor persecution and are treating this crime seriously.

24 thoughts on “Now THAT’S a deterrent!”

  1. Great stuff. Have known of dogs being used in Europe before. The sooner our ‘active’ Police force get them the sooner we may eradicate what is happening in the countryside.

  2. Any idea what the legality etc of a charity in the UK setting up it’s own dog unit in the UK?

  3. It’s not the first time for Spain either. A few years ago a bird of prey persecutor was jailed & hunting band imposed on an estate where a rare raptor was found illegally killed. Enforcement in the whole of the UK is pathetic.

  4. This is exactly what should happen to the gamekeepers and estate owners who break the wildlife laws in the UK, unfortunately even though we have adequate laws to do this, we don’t have adequate sheriffs, magistrates and judges with the balls to carry it out.

  5. We were in Spain on holiday last month, not having visited for many years. I was amazed to see just how well Soain’s got its act together. Superb infrastructure, peaceful towns (even the larger ones), everything clean and orderly. Returning from well-organised Malaga airport to the filthy, disorganised tip that was Edinburgh airport on the day we passed through was quite an eye-opener. Seems they’ve got their sentencing for wildlife crime just about right too. Respect! Viva España.

  6. I think I typed the word ‘setting’ twice, so the comment didn’t make sense! But comment has now disappeared whilst being moderated. So please feel free to edit my sentence so it makes sense. More haste less speed on my part. Keep up the great work.

    [Ed: got it, thanks -sorry, being a bit thick here but now sorted!]

  7. thanks for posting what other countries feel is adequate punishment for these crimes, shows just what the in-breds have been getting away with in this country and how we are a third world country in terms of wildlife protection

  8. Take note Scottish Government! There is a lot of rhetoric coming from Government but very little in the way of punishment when they catch the wildlife criminals.

    1. Is anyone forwarding the link to Prof Proustie, Hugh Dignon SG and Sara Shaw COPFS who would be the relevant people on the Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group. It’s not too late is it?

      1. Apparently Prof Poustie’s wildlife crime penalties review has already been submitted to Scot Gov. However, think it likely there will be much discussion & debate & maybe even consultation before any of his presumed recommendations are implemented.

        Scot Gov officials subscribe to this blog so they will definitely have seen this result from Spain.

        1. Thanks. Sent a link to the e-mail address for the consultation and suggested Prof Proustie, Hugh Dignon and Sara Shaw would be interested and to forward to the Ministers for Justice and Environment. Can’t do any harm. Wouldn’t it be awesome if something similar (or even close) could be handed down here?

          Keep up the great work.


  9. The judiciary are happy to come down hard on some crimes involving birds of prey, but not, it seems, where gamekeepers are involved.

    Here is how a falconer was treated.

    Jonathan Marshall admitted falsifying a permit for Samson (Golden Eagle) under the Endangered Species regulations and keeping the eagle without the necessary registration under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.Two further charges of stealing a kestrel and allowing a barn owl to escape into the wild were dropped by the prosecution.

    He was jailed for five months, suspended for two years,
    banned from keeping endangered (registrable) birds of prey for five years (effectively ending his career )
    by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, at Exeter Crown Court. He was also ordered to forfeit Samson if the eagle is found to be alive despite Marshall’s claim that he is not. The Judge told him: “You should have pleaded guilty to this months ago but you have tried to avoid responsibility for what was very criminal activity.“You forged a permit allowing you to keep Samson using a form relating to another bird, a merlin, so you could take advantage of the opportunity of good publicity by appearing on the Alan Titchmarsh show on TV.“That was all done for your own benefit. It was not something of no consequence. It was an act of considerable dishonesty.“It was forgery and dishonesty and if successful it would have driven a coach and horses through the legislation which protects the birds from which you make your living.“You also collected Samson from the Hawk Conservancy. You did not register him to your address. I regard that as a serious offence.”

    On the face of it this was only a paperwork offence and that is what he was guilty of. As far as I know his sentence is based on just that. So a pretty stiff sentence.
    Reading between the lines there is a bit more to it but his sentence should not take that into account.

    Has anyone heard of a gamekeeper having his firearms/shotgun licences removed?

    One law for the . . . . .

    Full story at

  10. It must be refreshing to live in a progressive European democracy; no wonder there’s so little enthusiasm for it from the right.

  11. It’s true, falconers can be, and are prosecuted for paperwork offenses, even though their hawks can be shown to be aviary bred. The same would also be true if I were to allow my goshawk to live in the wild. Easier targets, and they could then argue they are tackling wildlife crime.

  12. In the UK he probably would have got a few hours community service. In reality we are closer to the likes of Malta on such issues

  13. in the words of ex sheriff kevin drummond when asked to comment on the sentences given in the scottish courts for wildlife poisoning compared to sentences given in the spanish courts.

    “get a life they are only birds”

    That is why Scotland’s wildlife continues to be persecuted with impunity ( not by a minority on an industrial scale)

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