Prominent falconer cleared of welfare allegations relating to ten eagles but faces charges for another 90 eagles

Last year I wrote about a prominent falconer, Andrew Knowles-Brown, who was facing multiple charges relating to the alleged mistreatment of approximately 90 raptors at his Scottish Eagle Centre in Lanarkshire following an investigation led by the Scottish SPCA (see here).

Knowles-Brown denied all the charges.

Golden eagle. Photo: NDP

For reasons that are unclear to me, these charges were split into two separate trials: one trial for the alleged mistreatment of ten White-bellied sea eagles which had recently been imported from a zoo in Brunei; and a second trial relating to alleged welfare offences for approximately 90 eagles held at the Scottish Eagle Centre.

In February this year, Knowles-Brown was cleared of all charges in the first trial relating to the ten imported White-bellied eagles, according to a (paywalled) report in The Times written by David Meikle.

The court heard that international avian veterinary expert Neil Forbes had said the ten eagles were in “totally inappropriate” accommodation and he’d expressed concerns about ventilation, cleaning and veterinary care. However, a vet who was over-seeing the quarantine process had not raised any concerns about the welfare of the eagles or the conditions in which they were being kept.

Knowles-Brown denied failing to provide the birds with appropriate vet care, keeping them in overcrowded enclosures and using a power washer in the enclosure. The second charge, which he also denied, alleged he failed to provide the ten eagles with enough space to fly, drinking water and failed to monitor them while in quarantine between July and September 2019.

At Lanark Sheriff Court in February 2023 Sheriff Adrian Cottam said the evidence did not prove the facilities or conditions for the birds were inappropriate and cleared him of all allegations.

Mairi-Clare McMillan, the depute fiscal, said: “What is clear is that these ten birds were in a quarantine facility which all of the Crown experts indicate was too small for them and that the birds would not have been able to exhibit their natural behaviours and would have suffered physical and mental stress.”

Mark Moir KC, defending, said: “Andrew Knowles-Brown did not behave in the way alleged and did not cause any suffering which is alleged.”

The second trial, relating to alleged welfare offences for approx 90 other eagles, is due to be heard on 29th March 2023.

As the second case is still live, comments won’t be accepted on this blog until all proceedings have concluded. Thanks for your understanding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s