This won’t come as any surprise to anyone, but it has now been confirmed that the man given a police caution for setting illegal pole traps on a grouse moor on the Mossdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is……wait for it….a gamekeeper from the Mossdale Estate.
How do we know? Because the Moorland Association has said so.
In a rather late public statement (probably issued after coming under considerable pressure to say something), the Moorland Association says the unnamed 23-year old is a ‘junior employee’ of the Mossdale Estate.
By the way, the name of this individual has not been publicised, and nor can it be (hence the pixelated photo from the RSPB in previous articles about this crime) because he is protected by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (see here for a good explanation). This Act’s basic premise is that after a period of x years post-conviction (depending on the type of crime committed – typically five years for someone convicted of a wildlife crime), the conviction can be ignored and need not be divulged (with one or two exceptions). If somebody does then publish information about the individual’s conviction, they may be subject to libel damages, but only if the primary motive for publishing the information was malicious. What’s amazing about this legislation in this particular case is that if an individual receives a police caution, that caution is considered immediately ‘spent’, which means that the individual cannot be publicly named in relation to his crime, even immediately after his admission of guilt! It gives a whole new meaning to the term police protection.
Anyway, back to that statement from the Moorland Association. Here it is:
Disgust at use of illegally set traps on posts
3rd June 2016
Chairman of the Moorland Association, Robert Benson, has today issued the following statement:
We agree with the RSPB and others expressing disgust about the use of illegally set traps on posts. This behaviour could result in indiscriminate capture of wildlife and prolonged suffering. It was rightly outlawed in 1904 and these is no place for it in 21st Century moorland management. There are perfectly good legal and targeted predator control measures available to protect ground nesting birds at this time of year, not least through the licensing system.
The owner of the estate where this gamekeeper worked is a member of the Moorland Association. He has made it clear that neither he nor his head gamekeeper knew anything of this illegal and totally unacceptable activity by a junior employee. The employee who set the traps has been suspended and, as a result of having accepted a police caution for his action, now carries a criminal record and has lost his right to own firearms.
The first paragraph is a commendable condemnation of illegal pole-trapping. The problem is, whether it was said with sincerity or not, many of us don’t believe it’s worth the paper it’s written on. It’s clear from this case alone that whatever the Moorland Association thinks, it has little influence over what actually happens on a grouse moor.
What would be more convincing is if the Moorland Association expelled any of its members on whose grouse moor this illegal practice had been detected. Now THAT would be a more credible display of zero tolerance for illegal raptor persecution, wouldn’t it?
But no. Instead we get a feeble explanation that the grouse moor owner and his head gamekeeper knew nothing about the illegal activity taking place on that moor. And that, it seems, is enough justification for the grouse moor owner to remain a member of the club. Does that indicate a Moorland Association policy of zero tolerance to you? It doesn’t to us.
And what action has the grouse moor owner taken against his criminal employee who has already admitted ‘illegal and totally unacceptable’ behaviour? He’s just suspended him. He hasn’t fired him, he’s JUST SUSPENDED HIM.
That tells you everything you need to know about the grouse-shooting industry.
Please sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting HERE
We’re interested in finding out whether this criminal gamekeeper is / was a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. Let’s ask them. Emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org