A WILDLIFE expert has described the carnage he discovered in a small woodland in the Borders.

Among the corpses of dead animals were many protected species including badgers, an otter, and birds of prey.

And surrounding the pit of death were more than 20 illegal snares, set to kill even more animals.

This week gamekeeper Alan Wilson admitted a total of nine offences against protected species.

The 60-year-old pleaded guilty to shooting badgers, an otter, goshawks and buzzards as well as using 23 illegal snares in a small wood on the Berwickshire estate where he worked.

Animal campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports were first tipped off about illegal snaring at Henlaw Wood on the Longformacus Estate three years ago.

An activist found a 'stink pit' of dead animals within the woodland, which is designed to attract other animals, and a network of set snares on the trails leading to the lure.

During a further visit the following spring the same welfare campaigner discovered the carcases of a badger and several dead birds within the woodland.

But it was only when police and officers from the Scottish SPCA descended on the Berwickshire estate that the scale of the slaughter was fully exposed.

David Anderson, conservation manager for the Forestry Commission Scotland, was among the raid party.

He stated: "In 40 years working in wildlife management I have never seen so many protected species dead in such a small area."

Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told that Wilson was the sole gamekeeper for the Longformacus Estate.

He had previously worked as a gamekeeper in France for 10 years before returning to Scotland and now lived on the estate with his partner.

Wilson pleaded guilty to shooting and killing two goshawks, three buzzards, three badgers and an otter at Henlaw Wood between March 2016 and May 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to charges of using illegal snares and possession of two bottles of carbofuran.

Sheriff Peter Paterson told Wilson:"These charges are serious and numerous and before I decide on an appropriate sentence I will need a report to see what sentencing options are open to me.

"Society, whatever you may think, takes a dim view on this."

It emerged that Wilson was fined £400 last year and banned from keeping birds of prey for 10 years after admitting failing to protect an eagle owl in his care from suffering.

Wilson will be sentenced for these latest crimes against animals next month.

The Scottish SPCA'S chief inspector of undercover special investigations unit has welcomed the guilty pleas.

He told us: "We welcome the fact that Wilson has pled guilty to these charges.

"This case is a testament to the close working relationship of the Scottish SPCA's special investigations unit and Police Scotland.

"Wildlife crime is a hugely specialised area and close working relationships such as these are paramount in bringing people who break the law and mistreat wildlife to justice.

"We look forward to the sentencing on this case."

The site was visited by police officers and Scottish SPCA officers when the full catalogue of the shot protected species emerged and snares found which would have wholly or

partially suspended an animal.

told Jedburgh Sheriff Court how he had never witnessed so many protected species lying dead in such a small area in his 40 years

career, .