A pigeon fancier has been fined a measly £450 after pleading guilty to shooting and killing a sparrowhawk.
60 year old Duncan Cowan from Cowie in Stirlingshire was observed coming out of his shed with an air rifle and firing at a sparrowhawk in the field behind his garden on 18 April 2019. He fired three or four times as the sparrowhawk attacked a pigeon.
The police were called and the Scottish SPCA took the shot sparrowhawk for veterinary attention but it didn’t survive its injuries.
[Cowan outside his shed. Media handout]
Yesterday at Stirling Sheriff Court Cowan pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 1(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 resulting in the fine.
Sara Shaw, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment, said: “I welcome today’s conviction and the message it sends to those who choose to commit acts of violence against wild birds. Wild birds are given strict protection under our wildlife laws and COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”
The sooner the proposed increased penalties for wildlife crime are enacted, the better. Having said that, the current maximum penalty available is £5,000 and/or a six month custodial sentence so a fine of £450 is still incredibly lenient for the deliberate injuring (and subsequent killing) of a protected species.
After gamekeepers, pigeon fanciers accounted for a significant proportion of all those convicted for raptor persecution crimes between 1990 – 2018, according to RSPB data (BirdCrime Report 2018)