A prominent falconer and eagle breeder is being prosecuted for the alleged mistreatment of 90 raptors and other bird species at his breeding facility in Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire.
Andrew Knowles-Brown, 67, and his associate Alan Rothery, 62, have been charged with a number of offences relating to the welfare of birds of prey at the Scottish Eagle Centre between June and December 2019 after an investigation led by the Scottish SPCA.
The alleged offences include keeping the birds in enclosures which were too small, failing to provide the birds with natural light, failing to provide them with adequate water, denying them the ability to exhibit natural behaviours such as flying and bathing, failing to protect the birds from injury, suffering and disease, and mistreating a Tawny owl.
Knowles-Brown and Rothery have denied the charges and a court case is ongoing. There has already been three days of evidence-giving and the case will continue on 20th October 2022 at Lanark Sheriff Court.
Knowles-Brown is a prominent figure in the falconry world, having served as the Chair of the Scottish Hawk Board and Vice-Chair of the UK Hawk Board. The Hawk Board, which includes a representative from the Countryside Alliance, represents falconers, hawk-keepers and falconry clubs and provides welfare guidelines for those keeping raptors in captivity. It also engages in political lobbying (e.g. it was against the Scottish Government’s decision to afford the Mountain Hare full legal protection) and Knowles-Brown himself has provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs Committee when it was considering its draft Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill.
Some members of the Hawk Board have been lobbying for some time to be permitted to take some birds of prey from the wild (e.g. peregrines) and the Hawk Board routinely and persistently denies that peregrines are being stolen from the wild in the UK and being sold to buyers in the Middle East. I suspect an impending court case due next year will blow holes in that position.
As the Knowles-Brown and Rothery court case is live, comments won’t be accepted on this blog until proceedings have concluded. Thanks for your understanding.