The Scotsman


 

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On patrol: Daniel Quinn says the only way to protect crops on his farm near Dumfries from wild geese is to leave the carcase of a bird in the field
 
Judge refuses to ban goose shooting
 

A JUDGE refused yesterday to ban a farmer from shooting wild geese on a nature reserve.
Daniel Quinn, of Powhillon Farm, Ruthwell, near Dumfries, was prosecuted last year under the Wildlife and Countryside Act for shooting three geese.
However, he was acquitted on a statutory defence that the killing on his farm, part of a Reserve owned by the Wildfowl Trust, had been necessary to prevent serious damage to crops.
After the trial, Mr Quinn was granted a licence by the Scottish Secretary allowing limited shooting of wild geese to prevent serious crop damage.

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This week the Wildfowl Trust had asked Lord Johnston to grant an interim interdict banning Mr Quinn from shooting the birds at Powhillon. The Court of Session heard that some 13,700 wild geese spend the winter in the Solway area before returning to the Artic to breed around April.
Gordon Reid, QC, for the trust said it believed Mr Quinn's claims of damage were exaggerated. Other farmers had, used scaring methods with relative success.
The geese were part of a long-standing research project and it would be disrupted by the deaths of even one or two of the birds, he claimed.

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Refusing to grant an interdict, Lord Johnston said the case raised the extremely knotty problem of conflict between conservation and the interests of a farmer.
If he found in favour of the Wildfowl Trust, he would effectively be revoking the licence issued to Mr Quinn and that was not appropriate when the court had not heard full evidence in the case.
He recognized, however, that with denial, of the interim interdict, the death, of “a few birds" was likely and that was to be regretted in conservation and scientific terms.
If Mr Quinn abused the conditions of his licence, he could leave himself open to

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prosecution, Lord Johnston warned him.
“Without the licence, I would not have had much hesitation in supporting the trust’s position,” he added.
Last night Mr Quinn said: "This is absolutely marvelous. What a relief — it has been a tremendous burden."
"They the Wildfowl Trust knew serious damage was happening here. They made their case on saying there was no damage and then in the middle of the case they turned round and said they were willing to compensate for damage. I’m sure there will be a few civil cases come out of this."


John Robertson
reports on a case that highlights the conflict between conservation and agriculture

Mr Reid added that under the lease covering Powhillon Farm, the trust, as landlords, had exclusive rights over the hunting, killing, and taking of game, which included the wild geese. The licence issued to Mr Quinn had been on condition that it was not taken as superseding any term of the lease.