Wildlife crime egg collector jailed and banned from Scotland in breeding season

A serial egg collector has today received an ASBO banning him from visiting Scotland during the breeding season for the rest of his life.

Today at Inverness Sheriff Court, Matthew Gonshaw, from Bow, East London pled guilty to charges of taking 20 wild bird eggs from the Isle of Rum in 2011.

The 49 year old was also caught in possession of egg collecting equipment .

As well as the ASBO, he was ordered to serve two, six month jail terms concurrently.

Speaking at the sentencing, Sheriff Margaret Neilson said her main concern was to ‘protect the wildlife of Scotland from predators like you’ and described Gonshaw as a ‘wildlife destroyer’.

In June 2011, Gonshaw was arrested on the Isle of Rum after he was caught taking eggs belonging to manx shearwater, meadow pipit and willow warbler.

A warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to attend an earlier court date relating to the incident.

Commenting on the sentencing, RSPB Scotland Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson, says: ‘We welcome this sentence and the strong comments made by the Sheriff as it sends out a clear message to those who seek to destroy Scotland’s natural heritage.  This successful prosecution is the result of hard work by the Northern Constabulary, the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland.

Background

Britain is the global stronghold for Manx shearwater, and the Isle of Rum holds one of the world’s biggest colonies. The island is a Special Protection Area for the species.

Each pair lays a single egg – therefore, the eight eggs that Gonshaw took represent the breeding attempts of eight pairs.

These birds migrate from South America to nest in burrows in the hills of the Island. (Rum is a National Nature Reserve, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage.)

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