Farmer admits possessing poison used to kill birds of prey
A farmer yesterday admitted possession of a deadly poison which has killed hundreds of birds of prey in Scotland.
Police investigating the discovery of a dead golden eagle got a warrant to search 50-year-old Tom McKellar’s house and found the illegal pesticide Carbofuran in a bag in his porch.
Kate Fleming, prosecuting, toldOban Sheriff Court the officers had also found the carcasses of a sheep and a fox – both containing traces of Carbofuran.
The poison was originally intended as an anti-slug pesticide to be drilled into the ground while planting seeds so wildlife couldn’t fall victim to it.
It was made illegal in the UK in 2001. The pesticide is so toxic that a quarter of a teaspoon can kill a man.
McKellar, 50, who lives on the 31,000-acre Auch Estate near Bridge of Orchy in Argyll, was described as a hero two years ago when he helped rescue 60 passengers from a train wreck.
The part-time fireman and mountain rescuer led people to safety from the derailed train near Oban.
But yesterday, his name was blackened when the court heard he admitted to police that he had used the poison to try to kill foxes by putting it on bits of meat and leaving it in a nearby wood.
Ms Fleming told the court: “If used in that way, it could lead to the indiscriminate killing of wildlife.
“A single poppy-seed-sized granule would kill a bird.
“Records show poisoning incidents from Carbofuran have increased. Since 1988, there have been 240 fatal poisonings of wildlife, mostly birds of prey.”
Lawyer David McKie, defending, said his client was pleading guilty to possessing the poison in June 2009 – not to killing an eagle.
He added: “The dead eagle was not found on Auch Estate but on Forestry Commission ground several miles away on the slopes of Ben Udlaidh.”
Mr McKie handed a sheaf of glowing testimonials on his client’s character to Sheriff Douglas Small, who conceded they were “brilliant”.
But he said the offence was “a serious matter” and he had to consider all options. He deferred sentence on McKellar to May 29 for background reports.
While police were searching McKellar’s house, he also admitted knowing there were two illegal handguns in his attic.
He said they belonged to a previous occupant who had since died.
McKellar pled guilty to that offence and was sentenced to 300 hours community service at the High Court in Glasgow.
Source: Daily Record