Man sentenced for poisoning wild birds

A 67-year-old waterfowl enthusiast has been sentenced for killing multiple birds of prey and other birds. 

Barry Nicolle, who runs an exotic wildfowl breeding farm in Dumfries and Galloway, has been 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.  

This believed to be the first Scottish 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 which is about 150m (164 yards) from Springholm Primary School. 

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 (COPFS) said: 

“Barry Nicolle’s actions led to the illegal killing of multiple Red Kite’s 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.  

“I would like to thank Police Scotland, RSPB Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, the SRUC Veterinary Investigation Centre and SASA for their part in investigating and gathering evidence of these repugnant offences. 

“The law protects wild birds and those who seek to poison them or possess stocks of illegal poison can be assured that the Procurator Fiscal will continue to prosecute such cases and ensure that offenders face the consequences of their actions.” 

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.  

Springholm is at the heart of the breeding red kite population’s range in South West Scotland making it a key area of the country for these birds and their future conservation. 

Several red kite were found lying motionless on the ground in a distressed state and had to be euthanised. The ten poisoned rooks were found on the grounds of Springholm Primary School. 

Subsequent post-mortem examinations by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) Veterinary Investigation Centre and toxicology analysis by the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) Chemistry Branch established a pattern and cause of death linked to a banned Carbofuran based pesticide called Aldicarb.  

All the deaths centred around Nicolle’s property and as a result of these enquiries police applied for and were granted a warrant to search Wickerty Snook. 

On the morning of 4 February 2020 police wildlife officers, along with an RSPB investigator, a SASA scientist and others executed the warrant.  

During the search of Nicolle’s home, the poisons Aldicarb, Bendiocarb and Phostoxin, which contains aluminium phosphide, were found.  

Poisoned bait and traps, including an untagged and therefore illegal Larsen trap, were found on his land.