RSPB use remote camera to initiate prosecution against pole trap user.

Fen TrapA part-time game keeper has been convicted of using an illegal trap, designed to harm birds of prey, by his pheasant release pen near Ludlow.

Last week RSPB released its annual Birdcrime report for 2012. Much of the report focussed on the continuing problems of the illegal persecution of birds of prey. A recent prosecution has again graphically highlighted the threats these magnificent birds still face.

On 9 December 2013 at Herefordshire Magistrates Court Wayne Edward PRIDAY (39 yrs) from Leintwardine, Herefordshire, pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the use of a pole trap in August 2013. He was fined £375 and ordered to pay £170 costs.

Pole traps are devices that have been banned from use since 1904 and consist of a powerful spring-trap typically placed on top of a post or pole. Birds of prey will the use these elevated positions as a vantage point and the traps are strategically placed where they will hunt.

On 7 August 2013, RSPB Investigation Officers visited a pheasant release pen near Elton to the west of Ludlow. They discovered a pole trap that had been placed on top of a post and camouflaged with moss. The pole trap was disabled and covert surveillance was set up to monitor who was responsible.

The following morning Priday was filmed visiting the site. Clearly puzzled that the trap had been sprung, Priday unfastened the spring-trap and took it away in his vehicle. Clearly the RSPB have learned from the mistake they made in Cumbria this year when they left the pole trap in situ catching the gamekeeper on video bludgeoning a trapped buzzard to death. Obviously many members of the public must have been upset at the graphic video footage that was then published.

West Mercia police visited the site and Priday was later interviewed. He eventually accepted setting the trap, though claimed it was for squirrels.

Guy Shorrock Investigations Officer, said: “There are a number of fantastic birds of prey in the forests around Ludlow including red kites and buzzards. However, we believe this trap was probably set for a goshawk, a very rare bird of prey with perhaps only 500 pairs in the UK.

“It is incredible that people still choose to use such a barbaric and outdated device.  Fortunately, we believe we found the trap before it was able to cause any injury.”

PC Jonathan Whateley, a Wildlife Crime Officer from West Mercia Police said: “Bird of prey persecution is one of the government’s top wildlife crime priorities and West Mercia Police are happy to support important operations such as this. We would like to thank the RSPB for their assistance in this matter.”

Pole Traps were made as round gin traps with curved jaws and springs, especially for use on top of posts and poles around game preserves to catch birds of prey and owls but were banned from this use back in 1904.

Trap makers still retailed this style of trap up until the 1950’s as it was only the siting of the trap that was outlawed not the trap type as such. Their size varies from the tiny Kingfisher Traps up to the larger Eagle Traps.

Of a similar type were the egg baited traps – round jaw gin traps that relied on the use of an egg bait to trigger the trap rather than the conventional plate.

1 comment to RSPB use remote camera to initiate prosecution against pole trap user.

  • kevin moore

    I find it curious that the RSPB are eager to initiate prosecutions against a number of gamekeepers in less sensitive areas of the country, but when it comes to more politically sensitive regions i.e., grouse moors in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland for example where raptors like the hen harrier, peregrine and goshawk have all but been wiped out by persecution, there has never been a single prosecution of any gamekeeper.

    In 2009 when 2 members of the North West Raptor Protection Group caught a gamekeeper red handed from a neighbouring private estate with a loaded shotgun below a historic Peregrine eyrie on the United Utilities estate, after the incident had been reported, the RSPB took no action, even though the gamekeeper admitted he had also committed armed trespass after entering the UU estate without permission.

    There have now been two occasions where the RSPB have tried and failed to successfully prosecute members of the North West Raptor Protection Group for alleged disturbance of nesting peregrines. The first case lasting 4 days went to court, at the end of which all the trumped up charges were dismissed by the magistrates and costs awarded against the police. This year there was a second incident when an inexperienced RSPB warden working on the United Utilities estate in Bowland falsely claimed he had witnessed 2 group members disturbing nesting peregrines. Following an investigation by two senior police officers because the warden, lets say had been less than economic with the truth, the case against both raptor workers was dismissed. During the interview both officers accepted that it was likely the warden himself had caused the disturbance when he had crossed the top of the quarry where the peregrine nest was located.

    What a waste of time, police resources and the money spent in pursuing this matter. Why are the RSPB seemingly more interested in undermining the valuable work undertaken throughout the Forest of Bowland by members of the NWRPG? It simply does not make any logical sense at all unless, the Society are embarrassed at what has been allowed to take place under their very noses. The fact that the RSPB have kept silent, ignoring the recent disappearance of all but one successful territorial pairs of Bowland peregrines speaks volumes. We must not forget either, although the RSPB have had an important presence in the Forest of Bowland for over twenty years, raptors like the peregrine, hen harrier and goshawk which they were supposedly protecting, are currently conspicuous because of their almost total absence throughout this moorland area in Lancashire.

    Kevin Moore North West Raptor Protection Group.