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Wiltshire gamekeeper, 21, charged with raptor persecution and firearms offences

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Wiltshire gamekeeper, 21, charged with raptor persecution and firearms offences

Date of alert:

Monday, 9 May 2022

Crime Ref:

Force:

Wiltshire Police

Britain’s ‘largest raptor persecution case’ is to be heard in court after police charged a gamekeeper with numerous offences.

Archie James Watson, 21, is due to appear at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on 25 May to answer six charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and three charges under the Firearms Act.

The gamekeeper and farmworker, from Manningford Bruce in Pewsey, Wilts., is alleged to have intentionally killed, injured or taken wild raptors – like buzzards and red kits.

The charges follow a two-year-long investigation by Wiltshire Police, working alongside the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSBP).

The force claims the case is “potentially the largest English raptor persecution case in terms of the number of alleged victims”.

“This is the first case in Wiltshire to be run under Operation Owl since Wiltshire Police joined in 2020. Operation Owl addresses the issues of Raptor persecution across the UK”, PC Marc Jackson of Wiltshire’s Rural Crime Team said.

He continued: “Wiltshire is known for its wonderful countryside, which is home to many species of birds – including protected birds of prey (also known as raptors) such as buzzards and red kites.”

“Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless, birds of prey are still shot, poisoned and trapped and the Rural Crime Team receive several reports each year regarding suspected illegal killings.”

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Wiltshire gamekeeper, 21, charged with raptor persecution and firearms offences
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