Angus Glens gamekeeper charged with pole-trapping offences

scales-of-justiceScottish gamekeeper Craig Graham, 51, has been charged with repeatedly setting an illegal pole trap on an estate in the Angus Glens.

At a second court hearing yesterday (1st court hearing 31st March 2016), Forfar Sheriff Court heard that Head gamekeeper Mr Graham allegedly set and re-set a pole trap, baited with a pheasant carcass, on a tree stump, between 9th-17th July 2015. A further charge states that Mr Graham set the illegal trap with the intention of killing or taking a wild bird.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between Bridge of Brewlands and Kirkton of Glenisla. According to Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website, this area comprises part of the Brewlands and Kilry Estate.

The case was continued until 12th May 2016.

BBC news article here

Courier article here

51 thoughts on “Angus Glens gamekeeper charged with pole-trapping offences”

  1. SCOTTISH ENVIRONMENT LINK has launched a WILDLIFE PROCLAMATION to all those standing in the forthcoming election, and to their respective parties.

    They wish that more attention be shown to wildlife conservation and habitats, along with the landscape in general, as these are essential for Scotland’s economic and cultural future, and that investment in Nature gives resilience to climate change. A pre-paid card can be had to send or hand to wannabe politicians to fill in, making a pledge to support this work.

    This praiseworthy campaign could be naive, if its sponsors believe that matters relating to the protection of our Birds of Prey and other endangered creatures, would result. Just what is the intention of our kaleidoscope of political parties, with regard to animal welfare and the conservation of species and protection to sensitive sea and landscapes? Such matters, they think are on any priority list of the lumpen proletariat, but vote winners are the NHS, Education, and all the other issues we assume any decent political party would have concern to implement to the benefit of all concerned. However, with fifty years of street stall campaigns and protests for animal welfare and conservation, I can say that the ordinary people ARE CONCERNED THAT SOME GAMEKEEPER or TROLL with a pack of hounds, can kill wildlife to support a blood sport or practice one. The gamekeeper in this particular case is defiant, as he knows he will not be much inconvenienced if caught; his masters will look after him, and those of our arrest/prosecution/judgement services, will be benevolently disposed towards him. Dr Aileen McLeod has stated that gamekeepers have given Scotland its wonderful wildlife, and help our food supplies, with wholesome fare weighted down with lead shot. To their shame, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, SNH, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland etc are hiring gamekeepers to assist in their SCOTTISH WILDCAT CONSERVATION PROJECT. They would trap cats, and see which are of pure race, and if not, then a blast in the head with a shotgun. No group involved in animal welfare or conservation of species should consider using the services of gamekeepers. Do conservationists not realise that by allowing cruel practices or employing the wrong sort of persons, they lose the support of a massive number of people who love animals and who do not want shotguns fired at them,

    I wonder what the new Scottish Parliament will do about Land Reform, with regard to wildlife and habitat protection? It will be a real test to see if the law on that subject is better enforced, and defiant shooting estates are taken out of business.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Greer Hart, senior.

      I don’t have 50 years experience of campaigning, just 40, and though many of the public are indeed very concerned about animal welfare, they don’t appear to be active enough, in enough numbers, to make their feelings known.

      For instance, I’ve been circulating Cats’ Protection Glasgow petition to the SNH and president of the board of the RZS against the killing of feral cats you mention – but as of just now, there are only 2760 signatories.

      If the cats can be caught to be killed, they can be neutered and returned to their patch. This is the recommended humane method of controlling numbers of dogs and cats in many countries.

      Maybe these countries are more compassionate than we in Britain are? – though of course, we are a ‘nation of animal lovers’.

      1. I think cats should be caught, neutered, inoculated with some sort of fatal contagious cat disease, and then released with a shock collar that activates if they come within fifty feet of my flower and vegbed or lawn. That goes double for next door’s moggie too. Bloody flea bitten animal.

        Domestic cat owners should learn to keep their cats indoors, or in some sort of caged area. Feral moggies (i.e. not indoors or in a caged area) ought to be fair game as far as I am concerned. Releasing them back to their patch is cruelty to the general public.

          1. So on top of trapping, poisoning, shooting and hybridisation…. wildcats are not really going to benefit from feral cats competing for their food and shelter.

            The feral cats should be homed or destroyed… releasing them back into the wild is just daft.

          1. Well nobody can agree on everything. Be a boring world if we were all the same. Although if everyone agreed with me about cats then we wouldn’t have to worry about cat crap on our lawn in the morning, so there would be that.

              1. A common fallacy. Cats often do their business on lawns, just like other animals. There was a BBC documentary a couple of years ago about urban foxes and how they got the blame for crapping on people’s lawns, so they did a hidden camera-night vision camera and it turned out that in 100% of the cases it was a local cat (and sometimes more than one) doing it. Plus I’ve caught the little basket in the middle of doing it too.

                1. We’ve had cats since 1945, I currently have 2 my neighbour has 4 (My other neighbour will have your sympathy, as she doesn’t like cats. lol ) and there are several others that visit my garden, my flower bed gets well used but never once in 70 years have I seen them ‘do it’ on the lawn. Obviously the programme you mention, plus the ‘little basket’ proves otherwise, but as I say I’ve never seen it happen (or ‘discovered’ the evidence). We keep asking gamekeepers to be tolerant of species they don’t like, maybe we should all be the same.

                  1. Maybe cat owners should be more tolerant of their neighbours and more considerate towards those who don’t have ‘pet’ cats but have to put up with the mess they make and the impact they have on wildlife. Just a thought.

                    1. Time that all mankind learned to live and share this planet with all creatures. Just a thought.

                    2. Just an impression – do not humans have a great deal more impact on most species of wildlife than cats or other such creatures?

                2. I’ve just looked at this post for the fist time, and had to double check I was looking at the right one! I can’t believe it’s degenerated into yet another discussion about cats. Humans have kept cats as pets for centuries, get over it. To me it shows a lack of compassion and understanding of human psychology that some get so excited and antagonistic towards those who enjoy the companionship of pet cats. Personally I find them entertaining and amusing creatures, and for old people and children in particular they can significantly enhance the quality of their lives. Through keeping pets children learn to appreciate animals and understand our responsibility as stewards of nature. I know some people who have been helped out of depression by their feline companions. So cats kill a few birds and small mammals. I’d rather they didn’t, but don’t regard them as evil, just animals following their instincts. What animal doesn’t? And Sparrowhawks and Hen Harriers kill a lot more birds than domestic or feral cats. How would we feel if people persecuted raptors for that reason? Oh, wait a minute, that’s what RPS is all about, isn’t it?

                  Some conservationists are their own worst enemies, with inconsistent attitudes towards foxes, crows and other predators or scavengers, and of course if the species concerned is a non-native, this gives us carte blanche to come up with gamekeeper-type solutions to “the problem.” Personally I support the official line on neutering and releasing feral cats (although would prefer homing them), not the disgusting underhand and clandestine approach involving gamekeepers and shotguns. I also feel from my own experience in the field that feral cats are very much rarer now than they were in my younger days, and can only surmise it’s down to the sterling work of Cats Protection League and other charities who have been carrying out an effective neutering programme for decades now. Can we just leave them to get on with it, and not taint our image by agreeing with those people who get far too worked up about these much loved pets?

                  The schism between “conservationists” and “animal welfare” groups needs to be healed. We need to get rid of the pseudo-scientific snobbery and elitism which divides too many of us, and is one of the reasons I tend to criticise RSPB for their apparent policy of denying their friends to ingratiate themselves to their enemies.

                  1. Thank you Jack Snipe, very well put.

                    I too sometimes feel this schism between conservationists and animal welfare/rights people. This cannot help animals of any species.

                    Can we not respect them all, protect the many who need our support and leave the others to get on with their lives?

                    By the way, there’s a ‘protect the raven’ petition on if anyone wishes to support it.

                  2. Have to say I found this thread by mistake and I too had to do a double take ………. Well said Jack Snipe. I live in a wilderness and have yet to come across a feral mog in my wanderings …… I objected some time ago to the devious ‘humane’ killing of trapped feral cats in Scotland but got no answers to my questions ……. obviously not important enough to be considered during the brawls emanating from various quarters. There will always be discussions regarding cats/pigeons/moles ……. let’s just leave it at that and get on with what the real issue is here – raptor persecution.

        1. Domestic cats are regarded as property, in Law, with a value between £50 – £1000, therefore the taking, interfering with, or killing, of domestic cats is a CRIME. Your comment is bordering on psychotic, and inciting or commissioning a crime, is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE, you might want to think on that.

          Presumably, birds crap on your lawn ? Therefore…… same treatment for all birds ?

          Perhaps a responsible adult should monitor, before you post ?

          1. Domestic cats are a non native species that have an adverse affect on native fauna. They are kept as pets, not for any benefit they themselves derive from the exercise, but to indulge some part or other of their owner’s psyche. Cat owners seem incapable of any understanding or awareness as to why others might not share their views. I suspect that in many instances such lack of empathy or consideration for the feelings of other human beings might not necessarily be confined to this issue.

            1. Dave, yer man above was advocating that cats should be, caught, neutered, inoculated with some sort of fatal contagious cat disease, and then released with a shock collar.

              and I’m the one with ‘ a lack of empathy ‘ ?

              1. In fairness, it is oonly because my first thought on controling feral cats (i.e. any cats not inside their owners home) was to use battlefield nuclear weapons on them and that sounded a little like overkill. But seriously folks, keep your pet cats indoors the outdoors are not good for them and they are not good for the outdoors. A little give and take is all we need in this world, and that applies to cat owners as well. Keep your cat, but keep it as an indoors cat.

              2. I agree. No need for the shock collar.

                Perhaps cat owners should be required to have a licence for each cat, on an incremental scale of charges for each additional cat. The licence fees collected could then be used to fund the free distribution of various cat deterrent devices for those of us who would prefer to live without cat crap littering our vegetable gardens, and our garden birds being disturbed and preyed upon by cats.

          2. Well said af, besides any monetary value cats are, like dogs, part of our family and in many instances our sole companions.

          3. Of course birds do, but they are not somebodies pets, are they? Cats are pretty much the only animals kept as domestic pets who aren’t kept ( under control ). The law is all about dog owners these days. I have two dogs who I always clean up after whilst they are being kept under control. My neighbour has seven cats who crap wherever they like, whenever they like. I do, however, agree with Jack Snipe in as much that this blog must have set a new record in the speed that it has gone off topic.

    2. Yes they are really making a song and dance about how they are helping ‘our’ wildcat, whilst those so called conservationists are threatening it by trying to bring back the lynx. Laughable, everything they do has to get twisted into some PR campaign for themselves and mud slinging at genuine wildlife lovers. Anybody seriously believe for one minute that the present parlous state the wildcat is in wasn’t brought about primarilly by rampant persecution by the game sector, and it isn’t still continuing?

  2. From the Brewlands Estate online website – my add-ons in brackets:-

    [Ed: Sorry Carole, comment deleted as libellous. Writing ‘alleged’ isn’t enough! We need to wait for the court’s decision on Mr Graham’s guilt or innocence before comments like this can be published. Thanks.]

    1. OK Ed:- here’s the quote from their website without my sarcastic comments – people can supply their own if they wish. [Ed: not if they’re libellous they can’t!]

      “Nature safaris can be arranged on the Estate either in a 4X4 or on foot. Let one of our keepers lead you through a variety of habitats, through native woodland in search of rare red squirrels, across ancient heathery moor to see deer and grouse, and through wildflower meadows grazed by Highland cows, native blackface sheep and native Highland ponies. The unpolluted waters of the river and lochs, whose water is fed from springs on the hills of the Estate, support many different types of birds. If you are lucky you may also see sea eagles and golden eagles. £40 per hour + VAT.

      Please contact the Head Keeper Craig 07970 146518”

      This is one of the activities offered apart from shooting, gun-dog training etc.

  3. I didn’t bother writing a comment, it’d just be [deleted for being prejudicial] anyway. Instead I’m going to donate a box load of “x”s in case the editors run out of X-shaped pixels. [xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx x xx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xx] That should help tide them over.

    I hope the SNP win the election, as much as they have their other faults they are the only major party with Scottish focused land reform on their agenda.

    1. When I tried to get the Scottish Green Party to start taking the actual environment, namely Scotland’s rural one seriously I was told by someone involved in outlining policy that this sort of thing didn’t matter as they had a policy on land reform anyway. They should be taking the lead, but are more likely to be talking about football club membership or surveillance cameras than wildlife or the land. They need to get the finger out.

      1. If you want to hear the Green’s environmental policy it is: Put in lots of concrete and tarmac bicycle paths all across it, and to increase congestion in other vehicles to make them burn more fuel and put out more fumes. They’ll never get taken seriously while they are still so anti-car, especially for people in rural areas.

        1. Just had a communication with a person on a fb page. She is a prominent member of SGP, a good one I might add. Apparently the SGP are thinking of giving the grouse moors ‘one last chance’ (WTF!?!) Since the Green parties are supposed to want complete ban on bloodsports anyway this is bonkers. Grouse moors are essentially ecologically damaging, that will never change, probably exacerbate flooding and if walked up shooting still allowed that means hunting can still make economic contribution without screwing up chances for proper ecotourism. IF the SGP don’t get fully behind any petition or action here against the estates that’s a big drawback. Even if FoES is supportive they only have 2,700 members to the SGP’s 8,000. The SGP could have Mark Avery’s petition a mention in their newsletter last autumn, but refused on very spurious grounds indeed. The situation with the estates in this country both grouse moors and barren ground stalking estates almosrt certainly warrants a campaigning group specifically to address this, but even the main players in Scotland seem indifferent to doing anything serious regarding the estates. Bloody infuriating.

          1. One of the problems the Greens have is that they still suffer an excess of reasonableness. That is they are all good and decent people who want to be reasonable with everyone, but they have yet to learn that some others just are not willing to be reasonable and use the desire of others to be reasonable as a weapon to delay and to ultimately get their own way. One of the hardest things to do as a progressive is to learn how to set aside our desire to be reasonable and just draw a line and demand that the others compromise and that the others make the first step. It sounds confrontational (and we are taught, and by whom((?)), that we shouldn’t be confrontational and overly demanding) and it sounds so very unreasonable; but in the face of the unreasonableness of others it is the only reasonable way to make progress. The difference between a progressive and the Obstructionist or Conservative is that once the other person makes the first good-faith move, then we also do too.

            It is a hard lesson to learn, but it is vital that people do if there is to be any progress.

              1. I had a conversation with Patrick Harvie where I tried to find out why he was not more vocal about major nature conservation issues, turns out his focus is on people only. Not unreasonable for a politician but very dispointing that he has such a narrow view about the importance of nature while hiding behind it.

                1. I’ve noticed the environment is only mentioned when its about people being affected – i.e fracking, air pollution, water quality – when it’s about how people affect the environment and trash it through buying tropical hardwoods, not recycling etc – doesn’t get mentioned. Not surprised about what you say about Harvie anything that’s not ‘social justice’ doesn’t get a look in. Someone in the John Muir Trust sent me a document from the SGP way back from 1989 about rural Scotland, agriculture, estates, plan for action – VERY good. Now I think it would mystify majority of SGP members and ‘leaders’.

                  1. The current Green Party are very much a Tumblr-teen type of party. That is unlikely to work out well in the long run, it is a step up from the “Ban All Cars” they were a couple of years ago though. They have improved somewhat since then, but they still need to dial the anti-car rhetoric down a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot.

  4. Obviously, it is difficult to comment whilst the man’s guilt or innocence has yet to be determined in court, but I note from their blog that the estate takes gamekeeping students from Newton Rigg College in Penrith. In the event of a guilty verdict perhaps it ought to be suggested that their students should go elsewhere …

  5. [Ed: comment deleted to be on the safe side. Please be really really careful about jumping to conclusions re: named individuals, including the owners. A prosecution for vicarious liability may not be required (if the person(s) concerned can show they’ve practiced due diligence) and even if it does go to prosecution, it’s not necessarily the estate owners who might be charged. There are all kinds of management layers on some of these estates. Let’s just wait and see what happens with this initial prosecution first.]

  6. I strongly agree with Mr. Hart when he says that ” No group involved in animal welfare or conservation of species should consider using the services of gamekeepers.” Given the blind eye that 100 per cent of gamekeepers have turned to their colleagues activities when it has come to crimes against raptors and others species then to employ a gamekeeper in a conservation project is to invite a fifth columnist into highly sensitive and vulnerable areas. In short, it’s madness. Let them continue to curry favour with those who are helping them destroy our birds and natural biodiversity but keep them clear of any activity or project associated with its protection. To do otherwise only helps to arm them in any further conflict which will no doubt be uppermost in the minds of those involved in planning the strategies of the shooting lobby.

    1. I think it was in the RSPB’s report on Dark Peak that mentioned there was a group set up to locate and protect raptor nests before the wrong uns got their hands on them. After a while it became obvious that nest locations were going directly from the group out to those who trashed them. There was at least one mole and the group was disbanded. The same report mentioned two eyewitness accounts of helicopters on the moor looking as if they were working with ground teams to harass hen harriers. Unbelievable the lengths they’ll go to. A wildlife artist (based in the Angus Glens) who gets lots of commissions from the huntin, fishin, shootin set and has just written a ludicrous article slagging off conservationists ringing and monitoring birds – they are really going hell for leather on the ‘bird botherers’ angle this year. Pathetic.

      1. Yes, Les, I reads the article and can confidently from personal experience say that [Ed: rest of comment deleted as libellous]

        1. All these redacted posts for sub judice cases are intriguing.

          Any chance that in the event of a conviction they could be published?

  7. One pertinent fact to the case in hand…and a reminder of how long we have all been fighting this battle – Pole Traps have been illegal since 1904…as a result of the RSPBs second ever campaign. So, thats just 111 years of criminality then.

  8. Dave Dick makes a very pertinent point. Similarly interesting is that a number of cases, as here, have involved senior gamekeepers of long standing who have trained younger colleagues. In those cases where guilt has been determined, one is left with the feeling that their illegal activities cannot be dismissed as a recent aberration (which, according to apologists for the industry would be entirely against recent trends and the ethos of ‘modern gamekeeping’). Rather it seems to be a habitual modus operandi that has gone unchecked for decades and by which, like latter-day ‘Typhoid Marys’, older gamekeepers have infected the next generation.

  9. Wonder how far this case will get before the PF decides not to proceed for some farcical reason or if it gets as far as trial, what it looks like after a plea bargain.

    It is well known that many of the sporting estates in this particular area are killing wildlife with impunity and have been for a very long time.

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