Gamekeeper fined after hundreds of dead birds found buried on farm

March 16, 2023

Hundreds of dead birds, a dead sheep and a deer’s head were dumped in a burial pit at a game farm in Donegal.

The carcasses of pheasants, partridges and duck were found at Brackenhill Game Farm, Carmoney, Cranford.

Stuart McIntosh was fined €1,750 when he appeared before Letterkenny District Court this week.

The 51-year-old of Carmoney, Cranford, was charged with disposing of an animal by-product consisting of category 2 material despite not being a person authorised, registered or approved under the regulations.

Category 2 material is ‘high risk’ and includes fallen stock, manure and digestive tract content.

Gardai inspected the property on October 7, 2017 and found the pit full of carcasses at the back of the farm.

The pit was covered with tin and was described in court as ‘quite big’.

“There were a lot of birds in the pit and there was no diagnosis of what they had died of,” an inspector told the court.

“It was obviously a place that any fatality was put into.”

Evidence was given of a dead sheep and the severed head of a deer also being located in the pit.

There are an estimated 20,000 birds on the farm, the court heard. Birds on the game farm are reared for shoots and the farm was said to be a ‘commercial enterprise’.

McIntosh has no previous for similar offences, but has previous convictions for no insurance and under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act.

Barrister for McIntosh, Mr Ciaran Elders BL, said his client lives with his partner and five children and ‘is not a man of means’.

McIntosh, his barrister said, did not send the dead birds to a knackery due to ‘financial constraints’.

The birds were being bred for sale for gaming and McIntosh made full admissions that he knew he shouldn’t be burying them in this way, the court heard.

“He realises the wrong that he did – and he realised that on the first day,” Mr Elders said.

“He made admissions and I ask the court to be as lenient as possible.”

Mr Elders told the court that there are 100 sheep on 130 acres of land owned by McIntosh. “They’re not the best of lands,” he said.

Judge Vincent Deane said that it was a ‘very necessary prosecution’.

“This was done for a financial motive,” Judge Deane said. “There was a breach of regulations and there wasn’t inadvertence.”

The offence for which McIntosh was charged is contrary to the European Union (Animal By-Products) Regulations 2014 governing the disposal and use of animal by-products.

McIntosh was fined €1,750 and given six months to pay.
 Recognisance, in the event of an appeal, was fixed on McIntosh’s own bond of €300.