A couple of weeks ago the Scottish SPCA, assisted by Police Scotland, conducted a pre-dawn raid on properties in Angus and Aberdeenshire as part of an investigation in to suspected animal fighting (see here).
This story has attracted huge media attention and more details have been emerging as journalists begin to dig.
The first insight came when journalist David Leask from The Herald exclusively revealed that the property raided in Angus was the Millden Estate, a grouse shooting estate in the Angus Glens (see here). We learned that as a result of the raid, the estate had suspended an employee pending further investigation.
We’ve now learned that the suspended employee was apparently a gamekeeper, according to this article by Charlie Parker in The Times, published two days ago: (see copy of article at foot of this blog)
Some may already have made the assumption that the suspended employee was a gamekeeper but this wasn’t previously clear; Millden Estate employs multiple people in multiple roles and they’re not all gamekeepers (e.g. in the Millden Estate 2011 sales brochure 16 employees were listed).
We’ve also learned something else about this raid. It had previously been reported that the SSPCA had seized dogs during the raid at Millden but their condition was unreported. However, according to this article by Jim Millar in The Courier, an SSPCA spokesperson is quoted as follows:
“We were made aware of animal fighting and secured a warrant to investigate further. This has been a successful raid and we are happy with the outcome. We have seized a number of dogs, which have injuries consistent with animal fighting and taken them into our care where they are getting all the love and attention they need“.
There is still no further detail about the dead buzzards that were reportedly recovered by the police/SSPCA, nor any indication of how they died.
We’ll await further information as and when the investigating authorities publish it. At this stage we are not aware of anyone being charged with any offences.
Sorry but as this is a live investigation we won’t be accepting any comments on this post.
UPDATE: Here is the text of the article in The Times:
A gamekeeper at Scotland’s most prestigious shooting estate is the subject of an investigation into organised animal fighting, The Times has learnt.
The Scottish SPCA last week led raids at two private lodgings on the £17.5 million Millden Estate in the Angus Glens. Specialist officers, backed by police, recovered computer equipment and dead buzzards among other evidence after obtaining warrants to search the properties.
They were said to be acting on intelligence gathered on animal fighting activities. Dogs and several other animals are understood to have been rescued in the operation.
Sources familiar with the raids said a gamekeeper was being investigated as part of the inquiry but no arrests have been made.
Millden Estate confirmed it immediately suspended a staff member after being contacted by officers but stressed that the investigation concerned an individual and not the estate itself.
The estate was recently visited by Alan Werritty, who is leading a Scottish government review of grouse shooting. He looked at Millden as an example of best practice for managing moors.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, which assisted the Scottish SPCA in its investigation, said: “We look forward to anyone found responsible experiencing the full weight of the law.”
A spokesman for Millden Estate said it was carrying out its own internal investigation. He added: “The estate will continue to liaise with the appropriate authorities. It has a robust system of compliance with the law including a zero tolerance approach to any wildlife offences or animal welfare issues.”
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “If the allegations are correct, this type of abhorrent organised activity will not be condoned by anyone associated with gamekeeping.”
The Scottish SPCA issued a formal statement on Monday saying it had conducted raids in Angus and Aberdeenshire after intelligence led to concerns for the safety of dogs and wild animals. An undercover officer in its special investigations unit said: “We uncovered intelligence to suggest illegal animal fighting was taking place at these locations.”
UPDATE 3 December 2020: Animal cruelty charges follow SSPCA/Police raid at property on Millden Estate (here)
UPDATE 2 November 2021: New trial date for Millden Estate gamekeeper accused of animal fighting offences (here)
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