Police statement on illegal traps found on Invercauld Estate

A few weeks ago we blogged about the discovery of two illegally-set spring traps and a critically injured Common gull found on a grouse moor on Invercauld Estate (Cairngorms National Park) in June 2016 (see here). We later blogged about the Estate’s subsequent denial that illegal activity had taken place and the Estate’s ‘understanding that the Police had not found evidence of illegal activity’ (see here).

Cairngorms Invercauld - Copy

We asked Police Scotland to clarify whether evidence of illegal activity had been found on Invercauld Estate (we didn’t ask who had found such evidence, just whether any evidence had been found). Here is the response from Police Scotland:

Thank you for your email to ACC Graham and concern about wildlife crime in Scotland.

The RSPB media release refers to an incident that it reported to both Police Scotland and the SSPCA following the discovery by two members of the public of a Common Gull caught in an open spring (Fenn) trap on the Invercauld Estate. As a result of the injuries sustained in the trap the bird was euthanized by an SSPCA officer who attended and the full circumstances along with clarification of an illegally set trap were subsequently passed to Police Scotland. Once aware of the specifics and having confirmed the availability of resources from partner agencies, Police Scotland  accompanied by specialist RSPB and SSPCA staff undertook a search of the area using powers available under S19 Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. That search was only able to identify signs of what appeared to have been trap-setting activity on the hillside i.e. holes in the ground but no actual traps. However, in light of the initial observations by the members of the public police officers spoke with representatives from Invercauld Estate. Unfortunately, the Estate was unable to shed any further light on this suspected illegal activity.

Other than the witness statements, there is no further evidence available from the initial discovery of the trapped bird and as previously highlighted the joint partner agency search failed to uncover any traps in place on the hillside. As a consequence, and despite a thorough investigation, there are at present no further investigative opportunities available to Police Scotland.

Police Scotland is committed to tackling wildlife crime and works closely with fellow members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (Scotland) to address wildlife crime issues across Scotland. We would encourage anybody with information about those that commit wildlife crime to contact Police Scotland by telephoning 101 or by contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


 Andrew Mavin

 Sergeant Andrew Mavin

Scottish Wildlife Crime Coordinator

Specialist Crime Division

Police Scotland


It’s a carefully worded statement but even so, is still quite opaque. The statement appears to confirm the discovery of an illegally-set trap (“….along with clarification of an illegally set trap….”) [actually, the gull’s legs were caught in two illegally-set traps, not just one] but then later it mentions ‘suspected illegal activity‘, although this appears to be a direct reference to other potential trap-setting activity on the hill, and not a direct reference to the two illegally-set traps that were reported by two hill walkers and then by the attending SSPCA Inspector.

Whether illegally-set traps were found on Invercauld Estate is not in question. The evidence, collected by the SSPCA Inspector, shows that two illegally-set traps had been found and that they’d caused appalling injuries to the trapped Common gull. The unanswered question, as ever, is who set those traps?

Invercauld gull

We will wait with interest to see whether SNH imposes a General Licence restriction order on this part of Invercauld Estate. Remember, even if there is insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution, SNH may still impose this penalty if they consider the evidence is sufficient to warrant a GL restriction penalty. We may have to wait a while to find out, because SNH appears to have stopped issuing GL restrictions while it waits for a court decision on whether the process it uses to impose a GL restriction is fair. As you may remember, the Raeshaw Estate in the Scottish Borders has called for a judicial review of SNH’s decision to impose a GL restriction (see here) and we understand that the court has recently granted permission for the judicial review to take place.

While we wait for that judicial review, we will have more to write about the Invercauld Estate case…..watch this space.

In the meantime, you might want to consider signing THIS PETITION calling for the licensing of all gamebird hunting in Scotland (online petition currently at 3,089 signatures)

When you’ve done that, please consider signing THIS PETITION calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting (online petition currently at 79,404 signatures).

10 Responses to “Police statement on illegal traps found on Invercauld Estate”

  1. 1 crypticmirror
    August 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Police Scotland do realise that Clancy Wiggum and Rosco P Coltrane are parody police officers and not examples to be emulated? I think someone might actually need to tell them this.

  2. 2 S TUCKER
    August 9, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I had the same reply. I have asked for further clarification of teh investigation undertaken – but am still waiting a week later for an answer

  3. August 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Would the SSPCA be able to confirm whether their investigation, potential prosecution, is ongoing or not?

  4. 4 Tony Warburton MBE
    August 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    My comment(s) are unrepeatable and unpublishable! Thanks yet again for your worl RPUK.

  5. 5 John McAree
    August 9, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    found this info on the internet. Police Scotland has 7 f/t and 8 p/t wildlife crime officers to cover 28000 square kilometres. They are led by a sergeant, rather than a more senior officer. The actual WCOs are probably committed- its their leaders who pay lip service to the entire subject.

  6. 8 Jack Snipe
    August 10, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    So, “police officers spoke with representatives from Invercauld Estate” – one wonders does that mean they spoke with the obvious prime suspects, i.e. the gamekeepers who work the moor in question? Or, as the word “representative” implies, a senile landowner or his/her paid solicitor? Surely any other criminal investigation would automatically call in (or arrest) the obvious suspects for interview, rather than their employer? It all smacks of the system not treating wildlife crime seriously enough, and showing undue reverence to the landed gentry. Remind me, what century are we living in?

  7. 9 Maurice G
    August 12, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    This is another example of lack of powers hampering an investigation.

    Traps found with an injured animal. Sspca being unable to seize evidence without a warrant and being un able to search for more traps or evidence. Having to wait until police attend……

    Lets see the “balance” being addressed and increase sspca powers and have more chance of proving who is committing these crimes.

    This case speaks for itself proving who did it is another thing completely.

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