A man has been sentenced to community service after intentionally poisoning 15 birds of prey.

Barry Nicolle, 67, is an exotic bird owner from near Springholm, who contaminated bait with noxious, banned substances in order to kill 15 birds of prey including five red kites.

He pleaded guilty to 14 offences which included the reckless use of illegal poison between 2019 and 2020.

Police worked with specialists such as RSPB Scotland to bring the case against Mr Nicolle, who was given a community payback order and ordered to carry out 216 hours of unpaid work at Dumfries Sheriff Court.

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Detective Inspector Dean Little, Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Wildlife crime can be complex to investigate and difficult to prove in court. In this case local officers on the ground were able to promptly gather evidence and work with a number of partners who utilised specialist forensic methods to build a case against Nicolle.

“Scotland’s wildlife is one of its greatest attractions, which is especially true in our local area.

"Nicolle’s reckless use of illegal poison was not only selfish and damaging to the birds it killed, but also posed a risk to the environment and members of the public who came across them.

The Herald: Red kite

"I would like to thank the numerous partners who assisted in this case and members of the public who provided information and assisted police enquiries.

"Crimes against nature are not unpunishable and we welcome the sentencing today of Nicolle which shows our continued commitment to investigate wildlife crime and bring perpetrators to court.”

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, said: "We welcome today's conviction of Mr Nicolle for multiple offences linked to the illegal poisoning of red kites and rooks around the village of Springholm.

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"The placing of poison baits out in the open is illegal, dangerous and indiscriminate. It is exceedingly fortunate that Mr Nicolle’s repeated actions did not result in serious injury to a young child.

“The investigation of this case was an excellent example of partnership working. We would particularly like to thank Police Scotland, notably wildlife crime officer PC John Cowan, for their dogged determination to identify the perpetrator of these offences and to see them face justice, and to Procurators Fiscal from the Crown Office’s Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit, for their diligent work in securing a conviction in such a complex case.”