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Man sentenced for bird killings

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By Newsdesk
Man sentenced for bird killings

A WILDFOWL enthusiast has today been sentenced for killing multiple birds of prey and other birds in Dumfriesshire.

Barry Nicolle, 67, who runs an exotic wildfowl breeding farm at Springholm, was given a community payback order and ordered to carry out 216 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty at Dumfries Sheriff Court to the indiscriminate use of banned poisons, which killed five red kites and ten rooks.

It believed to be the first conviction in which multiple birds of prey have been killed with poison.

He also pled guilty to possession of several highly toxic pesticides, using a crow trap illegally and an air weapon licensing offence.

Between May 2019 and February 2020 Nicolle laced bait including mandarin duckling and a mallard duck with banned pesticides. He also placed poisoned bread on fence posts around his land near Springholm Primary School.

The court heard that all of this was done to attract and kill scavengers in a bid to protect his own collection of exotic and ornamental waterfowl from a perceived threat.

Speaking after the sentencing, Fiona Caldwell, who leads on wildlife and environmental crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “Barry Nicolle’s actions led to the illegal killing of multiple red kites and rooks.

“The laying of bait laced with poisons was shockingly irresponsible and Nicolle has shown an utter disregard for the wildlife laws which serve to protect these species.”

And Police Scotland’s senior investigating officer DI Dean Little, aded: “Wildlife crime can be complex to investigate and difficult to prove in court. In this case local officers on the ground were able to promptly gather evidence and work with a number of partners who utilised specialist forensic methods to build a case against Nicolle.

“Nicolle’s reckless use of illegal poison was not only selfish and damaging to the birds it killed, but also posed a risk to the environment and members of the public who came across them.”

The court heard that numerous reports of suspicious deaths of red kites in the Kirkpatrick Durham and Springholm areas were made to Police Scotland, RSPB and the Scottish SPCA Inspectors by members of the public.

Several red kite were found lying in a distressed state and had to be euthanised, while ten poisoned rooks were found in the grounds of the school.

Post-mortem examinations by Scotland’s Rural College Veterinary Investigation Centre and toxicology analysis by the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture chemistry branch established a pattern and cause of death linked to banned Carbofuran based pesticide, Aldicarb.

All the deaths centred around Nicolle’s ‘Wickerty Snook’ property, which was searched by police on February 4 2020, along with an RSPB investigator and a SASA scientist.

They found the poisons Aldicarb, Bendiocarb and Phostoxin, which contains aluminium phosphide, as well as poisoned bait and traps, including an untagged and therefore illegal Larsen trap on his land.

  • Pictured above: the Aldicarb found at Nicolle’s home. Photo: Crown Office

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