Hertfordshire runaway rhea ‘Chris’gunned down by gamekeeper – par for the course!

  • Gunned down: Chris the run-away rhea has been killed, shot dead, yes you guessed it by a gamekeeper!

The giant flightless bird that has been roaming doing no harm in the Hertfordshire countryside for more than a month has been shot dead by a gamekeeper. Well I suppose with few raptors to shoot a harmless flightless bird is second best.

Runaway rhea Chris, who stood at 6ft tall and was reputedly capable of disembowelling a man with its claws, was gunned down by Stuart Howe in an oil seed rape field adjacent to Barkway Park Golf Club, near Royston. The bird, which is native to South America, was shot once in the head from a distance of 70 yards.

Mr Howe insisted Chris, named after gravel-voiced Auberge singer Chris Rea, had not suffered.

He said meat from the carcass would be used to make gourmet sausages, adding he understood the police wanted the bird dead because they were worried that it could cause a car crash.

Golf club captain Mike Rodgers told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s sad that someone had to shoot it, but if it was a traffic hazard, I understand that.

“The golfers here sort of adopted it and used to enjoy seeing it grazing near the golf course. We were quite fond of the bird.

“It was never a particular nuisance and kept well away from golfers.”

Mr Howe, 65, said: “I suppose some people might say it is a shame the rhea is dead but it would be terrible if it caused someone to die in a car crash.

“I saw the rhea near the roadside at one point and it would easily have caused a car to swerve and hit a tree.

“What’s the life of a bird against the life of a person or family?

“The police wanted it out of the way and there was no way anyone would be able to capture it.”

Inspector Paul David, of Hertfordshire Police, said: “I am amazed it survived this long to be honest.

“It would have been a real problem if it had wandered into the road and posed a traffic hazard.

“We will have to notify the owner that the bird has been killed.”

Jo Clark, the bird’s owner, could not be reached for comment.

The owner of the bird may now be entitled to compensation from the gamekeeper.

13 comments to Hertfordshire runaway rhea ‘Chris’gunned down by gamekeeper – par for the course!

  • Gemma

    What a horrible vile human being! There should be no superiority between humans and animals, we all live together and more humane methods could be used.

    Absolute vile human being

  • paul williams

    A Gamekeeper shot it…well i never, must have run out of Peregrines and Hen Harriers!

  • Alastair Henderson

    I believe that there could well be a legal issue here. The bird, being free, would in law be regarded as a wild bird. It is only legal to kill certain specified wild birds under a General Licence [issued by NE] the Rea is not listed on any General Licence.
    The gamekeeper should have applied to NE for a species specific ‘individual licence’ to kill this bird.
    His actions were therefore illegal.

    • skydancer

      gamekeepers actions are illegal all the time nothing ever happens to them they are”the untouchables” when it comes to the law.

  • Alastair Henderson

    I believe that there could well be a legal issue here. The bird, being free, would in law be regarded as a wild bird. It is only legal to kill certain specified wild birds under a General Licence [issued by NE] the Rea is not listed on any General Licence.
    The gamekeeper should have applied to NE for a species specific ‘individual licence’ to kill this bird.
    His actions were therefore illegal.

    Editor’s Comment. Alastair, Just because the bird was free does not make it a wild bird. The bird is regarded as an alien species so is not afforded any protection under wildlife legislation. However, the bird was the property of someone and therefore should not have been shot by the gamekeeper. There are precedents, for example if a trained falcon is lost and then shot, the owner has the legal right to sue who ever shot it for compensation. We believe in this case the owner can sue the gamekeeper for the value of the bird.

  • tweedler

    Ever heard of tranquilizer darts?…you blood thirsty bastard!!!

  • Tarboat

    Typical action of a bloodthirsty killer. If it isn’t a game bird then it must be shot. :(

  • kevin moore

    cant take the risk of it trampling a few pheasants cause there are only 40 million released every year so better kill it.

    Editor’s Comment. It seems some people just do not appreciate seeing a wild animal, they just have to kill it, how very sad is that?

  • alan

    This is the kind of story, that totally detracts from the good this site can do.
    There doesnt seem to have been much if any effort to get the full details before castigating the gamekeeper.
    Is this a raptor politics site, or simply a we hate gamekeepers site?
    The 2 arent the same.
    Doesnt mean i agree with shooting the Rhea by the way.

    Regards

    Alan

    Editor’s Comment. Alan we at RP do not have any grudges against most gamekeepers, just the ones that take each and every opportunity to kill wildlife. There was really no need to kill this bird as it was doing no harm. It could have been disabled and caught quite safely by using a dart gun to anaesthetise it, and then returned to its owner. By the way the story we published was meant to highlighted the method used to kill the rhea, for which in our view there was no justification.

  • tweedler

    The bird had been roaming around for a month??? Did anyone contact the owner (If known) a month ago before it became a hazard to motorist’s ? Did the owner report it missing? Why did the bird have to be shot when this could have bee resolved so much earlier…Oh yes they make Gourmet sausages.

  • Thomas Carroll

    The meat from the carcass would go to make Gourmet sausages!!! LIKE…maybe the owner had a more sentimental approach as to what became of HIS dead bird…shame on you…

  • Cabbie Drennan

    Up here in Scotland sheep are a constant hazard to motorists on B roads. Does this give us the right to shoot them too?

  • nirofo

    Just the sort of thing you come to expect from these trigger happy gamekeeper bastards !!!