A man shot a wild bird dead as a “last resort” because it kept on stealing his fish, a court has heard.
John Deas picked up the herring gull in front of a shocked neighbour and said: “You won’t be eating my fish again”.
The 60-year-old had been in a long running battle with the bird as he tried to protect fish stocks at his rural property near Anstruther in Fife.
At one point he had erected a scarecrow in a bid to get rid of the bird – but that proved ineffective.
So as a “last resort” he blasted the bird from the sky on December 9 last year.
Depute Fiscal Laura Bruce said: “A neighbour was in their kitchen when they heard a gunshot and saw a bird fall from the sky, landing on the ground near her garden.
“She saw the accused and asked if he had shot it and he replied ‘Yes, it was eating my fish. Last year I said if I saw it again I’d get it’.
“He then picked up the bird and said ‘You won’t be eating my fish again’.
“Police were called and told him they would have to take his guns.”
Deas admitted to officers he had a firearm lying unsecured in a caravan in the woods.
It was found wrapped in a blanket beside a bed in the mobile home.
Deas, of Wester Pitkierie Cottage, Anstruther, appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday where he pled guilty on summary complaint to charges of intentionally or recklessly killing a wild bird and of failing to keep a rifle properly secured at a caravan on land near Murthly in Perthshire.
Defence solicitor Hannah Beaumont said: “The gull had been a recurring issue at his property and measures had been attempted to prevent it.
“This was a last resort.”
She added that while her client held firearms licences for 45 years with no issues he had voluntarily given up his firearms and ammunition since the incident.
Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown fined Deas £335.
She said: “Taking into account what’s been said on your behalf, you should have used alternative measures, but I appreciate you were rapidly running out of options.”