Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:46 UK

Sufton Estate gamekeeper fined for bird deaths

A Herefordshire gamekeeper has admitted 17 charges relating to killing protected species using poisoned bait.

Ben Walker was accused of killing two common buzzards, five ravens, and faced nine other charges of setting bait and one of possessing various items.

The 26-year-old was working on Sufton Estate in Mordiford last November when West Mercia Police, Natural England and the RSPB carried out a search.

Walker, of Westhide, was fined £1,000 at Hereford Magistrates' Court.

Birds 'a threat'

The RSPB said a team monitored the gamekeeper for five weeks.

Walker told officers that he worked on a commercial shoot on the estate and killed the birds because they represented a threat to the breeds that would be shot, the RSPB said.

At the court he admitted nine charges of setting a poisoned bait, two of killing common buzzards, five charges relating to the ravens and one charge of possessing items capable of committing the offences.

He was charged under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The court heard he has since lost his job and now works as a labourer.

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