A man has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of seven wildlife offences - which included killing a badger in Powys, as well as disturbing a red kite nest and taking a baby chick.
Dewi Price, aged 40, of no fixed abode, had previously pleaded not guilty to seven wildlife offences - including one under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 - where on February 8 2018 in the Builth Wells area that he did wilfully kill or injure a badger.
The other six offences - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - related to May 2019 when in the Gelligaer area, Mr Price on two occasions disturbed a red kite while it was on or near a nest containing young and he disturbed dependant young of a red kite. On another date, he intentionally took a red kite and had the bird in his possession.
He was found guilty at a trial at Cardiff Crown Court on February 4. Price was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence that was suspended for 12 months, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, and was disqualified from keeping dogs for two years.
Mr Price was also ordered to pay £125 costs and a £25 fine for a breach of a suspended sentence order, along with a victim surcharge of £128. The court deprived Mr Price of ownership of his two dogs.
The RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit began its investigations on Price after being alerted to pictures and videos on social media. Pictures labelled ‘in Builth Wells’ appeared to be of a dead badger at the bottom of a dugged area.
In June 2019, the RSPCA with police, attended a property in Gelligaer, Hengoed, on a Protection of Badgers Act 1992 warrant.
A fox cub was found and appeared to be in a frightened state and subsequently was seized by police. It was evident that the fox had been kept in Mr Price’s bedroom where food, water and faeces were present. Hunting DVDs were found including one called ‘Badger Diggers Dogs’.
A female black patterdale terrier type called Gypsy and a young female black patterdale with a white chest called Faith were found at the property and were seized by police.
Further investigations of Mr Price’s mobile phone found web history including questions on how to ‘train a red kite to hunt for you’ and enquiries on how to find red kites.
Video footage from Mr Price’s mobile phone from May 9 2019 showed him up a tree at a red kite’s nest where there were three live chicks and a parent red kite nearby. Another video on May 18 2019 showed Price disturbing the nest again,attempting to give food to two chicks in the nest.
A further video shows Mr Price giving the chicks food and picking the young birds up. There were three chicks seen in the nest.
On May 19 Mr Price sent a video including footage of what appears to be a man-made nest in a cupboard, while a further video shows the chick being fed by Mr Price in the man-made nest. On 20 May footage shows the chick being stroked and in the background a radio is being played very loudly.
During the police search at the Gelligaer property, no red kite chicks were found and what happened to the chick is unknown.
Chief inspector Ian Briggs said: “Wildlife crime is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the RSPCA. We’d like to remind people that wild animals such as birds and badgers are protected by law and, working with partner organisations, we’re here to ensure that they are safe in their natural habitats.
“We would particularly like to thank the Gwent Police Rural Crime Team for their support and assistance with this case.”