THE RSPB has called for tighter regulations regarding the use of pesticides after a gamekeeper was convicted for a host of rural offences.

Paul Allen, 54 and from Wimborne, was given a suspended sentence at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court on February 16 after being caught in possession of dead birds, regulated pesticides, and a loaded shotgun.

READ: Gamekeeper sentenced over possession of dead birds

Allen’s court appearance followed an extensive investigation by Dorset Police’s rural crime team alongside partner agencies including Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

The court heard charges were brought after an extensive investigation by police ‘over a number of years’. 

Police executed a warrant at Allen's address in March 2021 and found a shotgun that was behind a door and loaded. They also found rounds of ammunition - neither of which were covered by the gamekeeper’s firearms licenses.

Subsequent searches located a ‘fire in the yard’ and a number of dead birds - including six buzzards and ‘parts’ of three further buzzards. Further ‘remains’ of birds were also discovered.

Regulated toxins - Strychnine, Cymag and Ficam - were found on Allen’s premises.

The successful prosecution has led to the RSPB to call for increased regulations over the use of pesticides - including brodifacoum.

Mark Thomas, UK head of investigations at the RSPB, said: “It is clear that the use of the lethal rat poison brodifacoum needs much tighter regulation and controls over use, as it is clearly being both misused and abused to kill birds of prey. 

“At the very least this product should be restricted to indoor use only, as it was before the Government relaxed its use in 2016. 

“We also suggest that only accredited pest controllers should be able to use it in specific circumstances. If not, then the unnecessary increase in bird of prey deaths, including White-tailed Eagles and Red Kites, will continue.”

The investigation into Allen began after a dead kite, laced with rat poison, was found near to the former gamekeepers land. Prosecutors stressed that Allen was not appearing connected with that incident and it is simply what prompted their initial investigation. 

Natural England called the ‘persecution of birds of prey’ a ‘scourge’ and said they were ‘pleased’ with the outcome.

Stephanie Bird-Halton, national delivery director for Natural England, said: “Natural England is determined to tackle the scourge of persecution of our birds of prey. We assisted Dorset Police in this prosecution, gathering evidence and providing specialist technical advice. We are pleased Allen has been held to account for his offences against our wildlife. 

“Without landowners and land managers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue.

“If members of the public spot birds of prey they suspect may have been poisoned, we would ask them to contact the police, but not to touch the bird.”