Gamekeeper sentenced for using illegal traps on his estate


A GAMEKEEPER who used illegal traps on his estate has been ordered to carry out 240 hours unpaid work.

James O’Reilly pled guilty at Stirling Sheriff Court to setting up unidentified snares which led to a fox being brutally killed.

A buzzard was also severely injured by one of his traps, and had to be put down by a vet.

A decomposed fox was found in one snare   (Picture: Peter Trimming)
A decomposed fox was found in one snare (Picture: Peter Trimming)


His illegal activity was first noticed when a man was walking his dog on the Cardross Estate in March 2013.

He came to a pheasant pen where a distressed buzzard was caught in a trap by its leg next to a decomposed deer carcass.

The man released the jaws of the trap from the buzzard’s leg, and he took it to the SSPCA when he realised it was unable to fly.

The buzzard was examined by a vet, where its condition deteriorated and it had to euthanized.

The matter was then reported to the police, who found an illegal trap which was calculated to cause injury to wild birds.


They also found that Mr O’Reilly had set a number of snares in the area, one of which contained decomposing fox parts.

Staff at the Scottish Agricultural College confirmed that the fox could have been there for several months.

Helen Nisbet, Deputy Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division said: “Birds of prey are given strict protection by our law.

“It is highly important to preserve Scotland’s natural heritage, including the wildlife that forms part of it. Our wildlife laws exist to provide this protection.

“This case involved serious contraventions of those laws.

“COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”