Friday, November 7, 2014

Buzzards Betrayed

Regular readers of Another Bird Blog will know that I regularly feature the plight of our UK Buzzards. Having for more than 30 years watched the Buzzard scramble unaided from a status of “scarce” to one of “common” I am sickened that certain sections of the UK shooting fraternity see fit to mercilessly persecute both Buzzards and other birds of prey. 

In the posting More Buzzard Bashing I promised to update readers on the sentence handed out to Allen Lambert, a gamekeeper found with a bag of nine dead buzzards on a pheasant-shooting estate. In October he was found guilty of intentionally killing a protected species. 

This is England’s worst recorded case of poisoning birds of prey. Lambert was also found guilty of possessing illegal pesticides and other equipment including a syringe for injecting poison into eggs or meat baits, which prosecutors described as a “classic poisoner’s kit”. 

Poisoned Buzzards - courtesy of BBC and RSPB

My prophecy of 9th October 2014 was - “If all goes according to the normal way of such things in the UK Lambert will probably face a slap on the wrist and a derisory fine rather than a well-deserved spell in Her Majesty’s Prisons where he could mix with criminals of the same ilk” 

Guess what? - On November 6th 2014 Lambert was sentenced to 10 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay costs of £930 and a victim surcharge of £80. 

Allen Lambert - pictured by Matthew Usher

This pitiful so called “sentence” will exasperate many, especially since Judge Peter Veits said Lambert’s crimes ‘had crossed the custody threshold’ but that his sentence would be suspended.

Sentencing is supposed to serve two purposes. It is meant to deter the convicted criminal from repeating the crime, but also to dissuade others who may be contemplating committing the same or similar offences. It is also supposed to provide a punishment to the offender for having acted in a criminal manner. This was a lost opportunity for the courts to send out an unequivocal message to those who continue to commit wildlife crimes. 

Lambert has effectively got off without harm, loss or real penalty. What about his now previous employers, The Stody Estate? The BBC - “There is no evidence the estate owner, Charles MacNicol, knew about the poisonings. He wouldn’t tell BBC News whether he knew, or whether he condemned the killings. Lambert was not sacked by Stody Estate, but instead was allowed to take early retirement. The estate distanced itself from the offences and said it had considered Lambert a valued and trusted member of staff.” 

The Judge told Lambert “There would appear to be a complete lack of control over poisons on the estate and in many other ways your employers might have been in the dock themselves for some of these offences involving poison on their property.”

The Stody Estate has received millions in agricultural subsidies over a number of years and The Rural Payments Agency is understood to be investigating to see whether financial penalties of tens of thousands of pounds of subsidy could be withdrawn if the estate is found to have been negligent. 

The Scottish government has made landowners share the blame for gamekeepers' misdemeanours. It says there appears to have been a significant drop in killings since the adoption of "vicarious liability". This is where a superior is responsible for the acts of their subordinates and has the "right, ability or duty to control" the activities of a violator.

The RSPB wants England to follow suit but the environment department Defra says the evidence that their current policy is not working is not strong enough.



Margaret Adamson said...

I am with you all the way on this one Phil tat photograph says it all. Have a great weekend.

David Gascoigne said...

This event even made the news on this side of the Atlantic, Phil. It is truly, truly sickening.

KK said...

There is a special kind of idiot who can harm anyone, a human or an animal or even anything inanimate. I do love the initiative the government of Scotland has taken, though. We need more such initiatives, everywhere in the world.

Tony Lawlor said...

Money talks and connections save the guilty again.

Pete Woodruff said...

You beat me to writing this article Phil, but I'm no less pleased to read it on Another Bird Blog.

The cry went out 'WE WILL WIN' following the Hen Harrier day earlier in the year, there's a need to add to that 'but don't hold your breath' when you see the worst recorded case of poisoning birds of prey in England being recorded by English law as Mr Lambert 'being naughty'....I despair.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I do understand your anger. Our locals rant and rail against environmental protections, including animals. That said, hunting season has started. It breaks my heart.
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Lamentable. El Sr Lambert tenía que estar en prisión. Que injusta es la justicia. Saludos desde España.

eileeninmd said...

Thanks for sharing this news, Phil! I have read on other post about the Hen Harrier plight.. I am not a fan of any kind of hunting.. It is sad the guilty people get off so easily..

Linda said...

Animal cruelty has to be dealt with VERY strictly. It has been proven that people who harm animals work their way up to humans. (Ted Bundy is one example, but there are many more)...and right here in Montreal, Luka Magnotta, who began with killing kittens and puppies, then killed, dismembered, and mailed body parts to various places. He is now on trial for killing a human. If his killing of the animals were taken more seriously perhaps the human he killed might still be alive. He committed this murder in 2012. Terrible!

Stewart M said...

Oh for out loud! I also suppose they told him he had been a naughty boy!

So parts of society just don't get it do they?

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

The Alpine Blogger said...

I see less Buzzards nowadays along the railway between Salwick and Kirkham and, barely any overhead in Poulton. I know they cover a wide area, meaning ones seen in one area can be the same espied in another but I get an uneasy feeling that this piece of highlighted ignorance is far from being an isolated case.

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