A Pontardawe father and son have been sentenced after illegally keeping a wild goshawk, and failing to ensure urgent veterinary treatment for the bird’s severely broken wing.
Paul Baker, 67, and Jess Baker, 39 – pleaded guilty to a number of offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court last week, including an admission that their actions led to the goshawk suffering unnecessarily.
The pair were sentenced at the court yesterday (16 May), with father Paul banned from keeping any bird for a period of four years. He was also given a 12-month community order, and told to undertake a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement. In addition, Baker Snr was handed a £200 fine, told to pay £300 in costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
His son, Jess was given a 12-week suspended prison sentence, a ban on keeping any bird for a period of four years and ordered to undertake a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement. He was also told to pay a £200 fine, £300 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. The court gave Baker Jr a two-month period to make new arrangements for a Harris Hawk presently in his possession.
It was confirmed in court that the bird had been in the possession of either the father or son for approximately three to four years with a broken wing, denoting a “prolonged period of suffering”. Additionally, Baker Snr had been told by an experienced falconer around the time of the incident to ensure the bird was checked over by a vet, and for the animal to be registered.
RSPCA Cymru attended the property on Christmas Eve, to find the bird with a severely damaged wing, overgrown beak and contaminated plumage. The bird was being kept unlawfully.
An RSPCA officer has said it “beggars belief” that the duo were prepared to keep the badly injured goshawk at their home, and their actions had “confined the poor bird to misery – regardless of their intentions”.
The bird was signed into the care of the RSPCA, and taken to an independent veterinary practice for emergency treatment – but sadly was put to sleep to avoid any further suffering.
Baker Jr also pleaded guilty to offering the goshawk for sale – something illegal under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “Quite simply, members of the public should not be keeping goshawks, wild birds or any wildlife in homes like this.
“It beggars belief these two people thought it acceptable to keep a badly injured goshawk at home. It was in urgent need of care – and they failed to provide it. Sadly, this bird likely endured a prolonged period of suffering.
“One of the defendants also admitted putting the goshawk up for sale. I shudder to think that any attempt was being made to profiteer, or get money from, this poor goshawk’s horrendous ordeal.
“This pair confined the poor bird to misery – regardless of their intentions. This case sends a clear message that this is not an appropriate way to act if you come across an injured wild animal.
“A vet was sadly left with no choice but to put the bird of prey to sleep; with the animal forced to suffer unnecessarily due to the awful decisions made by these two individuals.”