Wild Justice’s Raptor Forensics Fund helps secure 3rd gamekeeper conviction

We’re delighted to learn that our Raptor Forensics Fund, established in 2020 to help support police investigations into alleged raptor persecution crime, has played a part in the conviction of a criminal gamekeeper in Wiltshire.

21-year old Archie Watson, employed as a gamekeeper for a pheasant shoot on Galteemore Farm, near Avebury, was convicted of multiple raptor persecution and firearms offences at Swindon Magistrates Court on 1st June 2022.

The corpses of at least 15 birds of prey (11 buzzards and 4 red kites) were found decomposing at the bottom of a well on the estate in 2020, and Watson was caught on a secret camera tossing corpses inside. Experts at the Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, were asked to identify and verify the corpses, many of which were in an advanced state of decomposition. This was funded by our Raptor Forensics Fund.

Watson pleaded guilty to possessing three red kites and four buzzards, but denied killing them. He claimed he had ‘found’ them on the estate. He received a 12-month community order to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and was ordered to pay £393 costs and £95 surcharge. The court ordered the forensics costs (£288) to be reimbursed to the Raptor Forensics Fund.

This is the third conviction that our Raptor Forensics Fund has helped secure. The first one was gamekeeper Hilton Prest who was found guilty in December 2021 of the unlawful use of a trap in Cheshire (see here). The second one was gamekeeper John Orrey who was convicted in January 2022 of beating to death two buzzards he’d caught in a trap in Nottinghamshire (here).

Thank you to all those who contributed to our Raptor Forensics Fund and thanks also to the PAW Forensic Working Group (a sub-group of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime) who administer our fund and ensure that police officers can access it without delay to help progress their investigations into raptor persecution crimes.

If you’d like to donate to our work, please click here.