Gamekeeper sentenced after slaughtering dozens of wild animals on Scottish Borders estate

A gamekeeper has today (Monday) been sentenced to 225 hours of unpaid work at Jedburgh Sheriff Court after being convicted of nine wildlife offences. Alan Wilson who worked on the Longformacus Estate near Duns in the Scottish Borders pled guilty to the offences which resulted in the deaths of dozens of wild animals and birds.

Mr Wilson had used illegal snares and gin traps to kill wildlife including otters, badgers, foxes and birds of prey at Henlaw Wood, Longformacus between March 2016 and May 2017. He was also found to be in possession of banned pesticides.

Legal Stink pit to attract wild animals to snare traps. Longformacus Estate. May 2017

The charges were brought against Mr Wilson after a League Against Cruel Sports Investigations and Field Research Officer found traps which he suspected were being used to target birds of prey, as well as a dead Goshawk near the gamekeeper’s property. The League contacted the Scottish SPCA, who searched the property and subsequently informed Police Scotland.

When passing sentence Sheriff Paterson said this was “a very severe case” but he had no option within the confines of the law to hand down a custodial sentence due to guidance on short term sentencing.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “This is an appalling case, involving the systematic illegal slaughter of wildlife so that more grouse can be shot for entertainment, and in our view is one of the worst wildlife crime incidents in recent years.

While we are pleased Alan Wilson has been brought to justice for his crimes we are disappointed the law didn’t allow for a custodial sentence. This case illustrates the scale on which wildlife is being persecuted in order to prop up the commercial shooting industry which relies on eradicating any species deemed to be a threat to game birds.

This is why the League is proud to be a partner of the Revive Coalition, seeking radical reform of Scotland’s grouse moors to put an end to this type of sickening behaviour.

"We can't praise the Scottish SPCA highly enough for their role in bringing Mr Wilson to justice. This has been an excellent example of partnership working resulting in the conviction of a serial wildlife criminal operating in an area which is notoriously difficult to prosecute."

An undercover Scottish SPCA SIU investigator added: “This is a despicable case of serious and systematic crimes to indiscriminately remove wildlife from an estate. The sheer volume of dead wildlife discovered and the variety of methods used, which include shooting, trapping, snaring and poisoning, is truly shocking.

Sadly, the Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit has seen a rise a wildlife crime in recent years, particularly the persecution of birds of prey. Through working with organisations like the League Against Cruel Sports, RSPB and Police Scotland, we will continue to take people committing offences against wildlife to task and make sure they answer for such horrific crimes.


Notes to editor

  1. Footage and images can be downloaded here and if used should be credited to the League Against Cruel Sports.

  2. Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 /


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