2008-03-22 09:23:13 UTC
Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent The Guardian, Friday March 21
A grouse moor in the Scottish Highlands owned by the formula one motor
racing tycoon Paddy McNally was raided by police yesterday as part of
an investigation into alleged persecution of birds of prey.
More than 50 police officers mounted a dawn raid on Glenlochy Moor
shooting estate, in the northern Cairngorms near Grantown-on-Spey,
detaining four gamekeepers for six hours and seizing a large number of
items, including clothing, equipment and documents.
Investigators have found several legally protected and rare birds of
prey - red kites and buzzards - poisoned in the area, alongside
poisoned bait allegedly used to kill the birds.
Shooting rights on the estate, which lies near a nature reserve run by
the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, were bought by McNally
in 2004 but the grouse shooting is managed by Mark Osborne, a land
agent based in Oxfordshire.
Last month, three gamekeepers employed by Osborne at Snilesworth moor
in North Yorkshire admitted illegally baiting cage traps with live
pigeons to lure birds of prey. The head keeper was fined £1,250, a
beat-keeper given a £100 fine and the third, an underkeeper, a
conditional discharge. Osborne could not be reached for comment last
Northern constabulary confirmed it had led an operation "to target
wildlife crime in the Badenoch, Strathspey and Nairn area". The search
was supported by detectives from the National Wildlife Crime Unit, the
RSPB, the Scottish government's Rural Payments Agency and the Scottish
Society for the Protection of Birds.
The force said: "A substantial number of items were recovered during
the searches of several properties and locations in the Badenoch,
Strathspey and Nairn area. Inquiries will continue over the coming
weeks and months."