One of the Queen's gamekeepers at Balmoral is being prosecuted for wildlife offences
after 2 badgers were killed by snares laid on the estate. Robbie Elliot is to appear at Stonehaven sheriff court in June. He has been accused under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of "failing to properly check the snares," an offence that carries a maximum penalty of a £10,000 fine or 12 months in Jail.
It appears that the badgers were found in May last year, trapped in snares in a forested area of the Highland estate near Birkhall, the Scottish summer holiday home of the Prince of Wales. Elliot has denied in earlier hearings charges of failing to check the snares at least once every 24 hours. Birkhall was inherited from the Queen Mother and in 2005 he spent his honeymoon there with the Duchess of Cornwall.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace confirmed that Elliot was suspended last year after the incident came to light; however, "he had since returned to duty." "Due to the time factor and the business of the estate his suspension was lifted, pending the outcome of the prosecution," the spokesperson said.
Last year the then Scottish Environment Minister, Mike Russell, rejected calls for snares to be banned, claiming that they were valuable for controlling predators such as rats, stoats, and foxes. However, he announced plans for tougher legislation to control their use, including identification tags on snares, catches to stop them closing too tightly and restrictions on placing them where they could cause unnecessary suffering.