In a first case of its kind, a man has been ordered to pay more than 1,500 pounds (about $2,290) in court costs for killing a squirrel, a media report said on Monday.
Raymond Elliot admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, a grey squirrel, by drowning it to death, Daily Mail reported on its website.
The grey squirrel, native to the US and Canada, has become increasingly common in Britain, displacing the resident red squirrel.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has claimed the 'test case' ruling could pave the way for hundreds of other cases across the country as the killing of squirrels continues to be a surpirsingly common problem nationally.
Buton Court heard how grey squirrels had persistently targeted Elliot's bird feeders in his garden in Burton on Trent, staffs, driving him to buy a cage before trapping a squirrel.
He then drowned the animal by immersing it in water but killing it 'almost instantaneously'.
Magistrates gave the 58-year-old a six-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay 1,547 pounds to cover investigation and legal costs incurred by the animal welfare charity.
John Sutcliffe, prosecuting, said: “This is a very unusual case indeed. It is the first ever case brought under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in respect of a non-domestic animal. I have prosecuted for over 30 years and with this case I feel considerable sympathy for Elliot.”
“Catching and drowning squirrels is becoming a prevalent act and the RSPCA wants it known that this is illegal.
“The defendant was extremely open and frank about his actions. He believed it was the most humane way of disposing of the animal - however, this method is illegal," Sutcliffe added.