A teenage gamekeeper who killed buzzards and badgers to protect his pheasants ahead of the shooting season has been warned he may be jailed.
Kyle Burden, who admitted nine charges, committed the offences last year while working on the 6,000-acre Kempton Estate, near Bishop’s Castle, south Shropshire, magistrates in Ludlow were told.
The 19-year-old, of Kempton, Lydbury North, Shropshire, was released on unconditional bail pending the preparation of reports and will be sentenced at Telford Magistrates’ Court in September.
Magistrates decided not to transfer to crown court for sentence after being told Burden used a shotgun to kill buzzards in May and July.
Phil Mason, prosecuting, said Burden initially denied wrongdoing after the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began an investigation into allegations of illegal practices at Kempton.
Mr Mason said: “This came to light as a result of complaints by two people employed as gamekeepers on Kempton estate. One of them was employed in May last year and witnessed Mr Burden shooting a number of buzzards and attempting to shoot a number of buzzards.
“At the end of this witness’s employment he was so disturbed he reported the matter. Independently, another witness came forward and that witness too saw similar things.”
Burden pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to killing two buzzards, attempting to kill a third, and killing two badgers.
He admitted setting illegal traps, possessing a shotgun while committing two offences, and asked for six other offences to be taken into consideration.
Huw Williams, defending, said Burden had no previous convictions and had been suspended. Mr Williams added his client was unlikely to be granted a shotgun licence and had been looking after pheasants at the time of the offences. “He wanted to protect those,” Mr Williams told magistrates. “He was losing big numbers ... the shoot was ready to start in September and he had to keep the numbers up.”