An elderly pigeon-fancier who killed a falcon owned and flown by the Edinburgh branch of NBC Bird & Pest Solutions has been found guilty of shooting this prized bird dead.
On 6 December, Dunfermline Sheriff Court was told that two-year-old Naphtali (aka Naph pictured below) – one of several birds used to manage bird populations by the Edinburgh branch of NBC – disappeared when he was caught by a gust of wind, while being exercised by his handler at a football complex at Torryburn, Fife.
Naph was last seen alive on 3 April in a tree above the garden of racing pigeon keeper Andrew Hutchison, about 200 yards away. When Naph’s minders went to inquire what had happened to the falcon, the retired miner, 67, confessed he had shot him. Mr Hutchinson, whom, it was believed, had Naph in a bin bag in the boot of his car, drove off.
Eventually the bird’s transmitter was found in a stream some four miles away. The remains of the bird, which would have had to have been dismembered to remove the transmitter, have never been found.
Mr Hutchison, of Newmills, Fife, was found guilty of maliciously shooting and killing a working falcon with a .22 air rifle. He was also found guilty of removing the body of the bird from his garden, separating it from its radio transmitter, and dumping it and the transmitter with intent to defeat the ends of justice.
Sheriff Craig McSherry deferred sentence for background reports until 18 January.
Commenting on the incident, Ian Cain, the local area manager for NBC said: “This was an extremely distressing incident – especially for our member of staff who worked daily with the bird and had built-up a considerable rapport with him. A huge amount of time and effort – not to mention cost – goes into training these birds to a level where they can effectively work in such high profile locations. The Parliament building is an excellent example of the high level of skill needed by these falcons to fly in such an extreme setting. Naph was certainly one of our star birds.”