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Gamekeeper found guilty for failing to check a snare which led to badger death

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A gamekeeper found guilty of committing a wildlife crime received a conditional discharge at Skipton Magistrates’ Court.

Austin Hawke, 51, of Ilkley, failed to check a snare following an incident at Denton on 29 May 2018 where a badger was found dead.

The offence is listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Following a trial on Tuesday (26 February 2019), Hawke was found guilty and received the conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay £645 costs and surcharge.

Sergeant Kev Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: “This case was reported following a member of the public who was aware of our proactive work under Operation Owl.

“From the evidence collected, it was apparent that the badger had suffered before it had eventually died after being caught in the snare. Therefore this case was fully investigated to ensure other animals didn’t undergo the same fate.

“If the defendant had been using breakaway snares it is less likely that he would have killed the badger.

“I am disappointed as we have been doing some really good partnership working with local Nidderdale keepers who want to show the public good practice and accountability.

“Hawke’s conviction will no doubt have an impact on how his profession is viewed. I think he has done his wider colleagues a disservice.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator, said: “The RSPCA continues to work closely with the North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force and this result highlights the strength of partnership working under Operation Owl.

“This badger will have suffered a horrific and prolonged death having been snared in this way.

“The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they are indiscriminate in what they catch and they cause tremendous suffering. But while they remain legal we hope we can work together with the Police and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to raise awareness of the good practice guide so as to improve accountability.”

Last modified: February 27, 2019