Shropshire gamekeeper used live quails in bird trap, court told.

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Neil Gordon Wainwright
Neil Gordon Wainwright a gamekeeper used a metal Larsen trap designed to catch magpies, crows and jays he had baited with two live white quail to catch birds of prey at Birch Hill Wood in Gatten, near the Stiperstones, Shrewsbury, Magistrates Court were told by the RSPB. An inspector for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds noticed the trap while walking on a public way and set up two covert cameras to record who came to attend to it.

Wainwright, 55, of Norbury, near Bishop’s Castle, denies charges of using a trap to kill or take a wild bird, possessing an article capable of being used to commit an offence, and failing to take steps to ensure that the needs of an animal were met.

The offences are said to have taken place between July 21 and 31 last year.

District judge Kevin Grego heard yesterday that an RSPB inspector had visited Birch Hill Wood on July 23 and believed that an offence was being committed.

Mr Richard Davenport, prosecuting, told the court that the inspector noticed that a Larsen trap had been baited with two white quails and set close to a pheasant release pen.

Howard Jones, RSPB inspector, said he had been walking on a public right of way when he saw the pheasant pen. He found the Larsen trap and then returned a day later to install the cameras.

Mr Jones said he and another inspector had checked the footage and over the course of several days the defendant was seen going to the trap.

At one point Wainwright was seen with a dead buzzard in his hands. The incidents were reported to the police and a warrant to search Wainwright’s home and outbuildings was carried out on August 5. Expert witness Dr Rodney Calvert, from Natural England and a specialist on trapping, said he had never known of a Larsen trap being used to catch anything other than crows or magpies.

Wainwright’s defence is that he was using the trap to catch mink and stoats which had been taking his game birds.

Dr Calvert said that using live quail as bait would not attract such animals but would be likely to attract wild birds.

Wainwright, who has several captive peregrine falcons and an owl at his home, said he had used the quail as bait “as an act of desperation”. He said he had been targeted by a mink and had decided to bait the trap to try and catch it.

The trial was adjourned until June 29 and will be heard at Telford Magistrates Court.

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