“Game shooting is important to the rural economy, but a recent court decision highlighted the need for such activities to be appropriately managed.
The offence of criminal vicarious liability for certain wildlife offences has been enshrined in Scots Law since its introduction in January 2012.
Late last year, for the first time, an estate owner from Galloway was found guilty of four offences for the illegal actions of an employee.
His gamekeeper had previously been convicted of killing a buzzard by setting a pheasant carcase laced with carbofuran in a field.
The offence means a person who has the legal right to kill or take wild birds on or over land, or who manages or controls the exercise of such rights, can be found guilty of an offence committed by another person who is then acting as their employee or agent.
While it is a defence to show that the accused did not know the offence was being committed by their employee or agent, it is also necessary to show that all reasonable steps were taken and all due diligence was exercised to prevent the offence being committed.
It is not only the owners of land over which the shooting takes place who need to be wary. Depending on the circumstances, a shooting tenant or other occupier of the land, a farmer who manages the land for predator control, a person who employs gamekeepers or engages keepering or pest and predator control services, a land agent, gamekeeper or other person with managerial responsibility for shoots should all make themselves aware of the strict legal obligations.
Depending on the level of involvement in the management of the operation, a shooting syndicate member should also be aware of these obligations.”
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Source: The Courier