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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Gamekeeper punished for poisoning
George Aitken arriving at court
Aitken arrived at Selkirk Sheriff Court in a ski mask
A Borders gamekeeper who admitted using live pigeons as bait and lacing pheasant carcasses with poison has been given 220 hours of community service.

George Aitken, 56, from Lauder, admitted a total of eight charges.

He turned up for sentence at Selkirk Sheriff Court wearing a black full-face ski-mask and a combat jacket.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) investigating officer Bob Elliott described the case as the worst it had seen in at least 20 years.

He believed Aitken was using the toxic substance to try to kill off birds of prey in the area.

The gamekeeper was caught in a joint operation last August when banned pesticides and traps were found at Blythe Farm near Lauder.

The carbofuran - which is this nasty poison - being left out in our countryside is a national disgrace
Bob Elliott
RSPB officer

The operation involved the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), the RSPB and Lothian and Borders Police.

They found carcasses of pheasants laced with highly toxic poisons had been laid out only yards from the Southern Upland Way - a route popular with walkers.

Home-made illegal cage traps were also found with live pigeons inside to lure birds of prey to their death.

Mr Elliot told Selkirk Sheriff Court it was a very serious case.

"This is the worst we have seen in at least 20 years," he said.

"It is the mixture of the traps, the pigeons that were contained in them and the poison.

"The carbofuran - which is this nasty poison - being left out in our countryside is a national disgrace."

More on the court case

Gamekeeper admits poison charges
30 Apr 07 |  South of Scotland

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