Nature reserve's gamekeeper accused of killing wild bird

A A A

The head gamekeeper at a country estate which owns one of Britain's most celebrated national nature reserves has been charged with a string of wildlife and firearms offences, after an investigation by police into the death of a wild bird.

Nicholas Parker, the head keeper of the 25,000 acre Holkham Estate near Wells-next-the-Sea in north Norfolk, has been bailed to appear before King's Lynn magistrates on 9 February.

Mr Parker has been charged with killing a Schedule One wild bird, taking game out of season, possessing ammunition for a firearm without a certificate, possessing a shotgun or rifle for committing a wildlife offence, possessing a shotgun without a certificate and contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Schedule One of the Wildlife and Countryside Act refers to "birds which are protected by special penalties".

Mr Parker has been suspended from the job he has held since 2008. The estate is owned by the Earl of Leicester and is run by his son, Viscount Coke. As well as being a major tourist attraction for its Palladian stately home, Holkham Hall, it is one of the most prestigious game-shooting venues in England.

The estate is also the freehold owner of the adjoining Holkham National Nature Reserve, which is currently managed by the Government's wildlife agency, Natural England. A wild area of foreshore, salt marsh and sand dunes, the reserve is celebrated for its flora and fauna, hosting especially a range of rare birds from avocets to marsh harriers.

Last year it made headlines when spoonbills, large white wading birds which have bred only four times in Britain in the past three centuries, suddenly set up a breeding colony at Holkham, with at least six pairs of spoonbills nesting and producing at least six chicks. At no time since the early 1700s has more than one spoonbill pair bred in the UK, and conservationists are hoping that the unique breeding success at Holkham will become permanent.

It is likely, however, that Natural England will soon have to give up management of Holkham, as under its Big Society programme the Government is seeking to divest itself of the responsibility of running nature reserves, just as it has begun to divest itself of England's public forests, most of which are being sold to the private sector.

For several months ministers have been talking to the main wildlife charities, from the National Trust to the RSPB, about taking on the management of nature reserves themselves, but the charities have told the Government they will only do this if they are fully funded, something which seems unlikely to happen.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence