Archive for the 'Photo Gallery' Category


Is this what happened to the Langholm harriers?

Is this what happened to this year’s Langholm harrier chicks, Barry and Blae? (Blae confirmed dead, Barry now ‘missing’ – see this morning’s blog entry below).

These photos were taken on Moy Estate in 2010. Naturally, nobody was charged with these offences. Probably not enough “hard evidence”, eh? One gamekeeper (James Rolfe) was charged with possession of a dead red kite that was found in the back of his vehicle. The kite had two broken legs and its head had been caved in with a blunt instrument (see here and here for background info).

This first photograph shows a skinned rabbit that had been placed out on the moor. Can you see the hidden spring traps on either side of this bait? No? Any passing raptor would probably struggle to see them, too:

This next photo shows another bait found set on Moy with two spring traps. This time the moss has been removed so the traps could be photographed. These traps are illegal when used in this way:

This next photo shows a hen harrier caught in one of the illegal traps that had been laid out on Moy Estate. The picture is slightly blurred but we can forgive the photographer, given the circumstances:

Here’s the same harrier being carefully removed from the trap. This one was lucky – he survived:


Photo: a poisoned golden eagle on a Scottish grouse moor

Thanks to the contributor who sent in these images. This dead eagle was found on a Scottish grouse moor in 2010. Tests showed it had been poisoned with a banned pesticide. Nobody has been charged.

It seems that unless the poisoner is actually seen placing the bait AND unless the eagle is actually seen eating from that bait (how unlikely is that?!) a prosecution will not be forthcoming. We know from experience that even with filmed evidence of illegal activities a prosecution is not guaranteed. This ludicrous situation sends a clear message to the poisoners: carry on, you are immune from prosecution.


Photo: a Scottish gamekeeper’s illegal gin trap

Thanks to the contributor who sent in this photo and the following information:

Given the appalling news story about a golden eagle found with injuries from a leg-hold trap…here’s my photo of a freshly used gin trap and stake seized by the police and RSPB from a keeper in 2003. One of a bagful.

To my certain knowledge these traps, outlawed finally in Scotland in 1974 (20 years after England…seems it was ok to torture foxes legally up to that point), have been used (and are probably still being used) under a bait to trap golden eagles, wild cats and foxes..

The most likely trap to have been involved in the recent golden eagle case. Eagles are strong enough to rip one of these up and fly or hobble away…if stake isn’t well tied down. They can snap bailer twine (the usual attachment for Fenn/Springer pole traps) like it was thread”.


Photo: poisoned bait


Photo: a decomposing mountain hare in a snare

In light of this week’s test court case about whether it’s legal to snare mountain hares (the Lochindorb Estate trial), a contributor has sent in this topical photograph. It shows a decomposing mountain hare that had been caught in a snare on another well-known grouse moor and left to rot.

In Scotland, it is a legal requirement for snare operators to check each of their snares at least once a day at intervals of no more than 24 hours. It is an offence to fail to release or remove an animal, whether alive or dead, while carrying out such an inspection.

It is clear that an offence had been committed in this instance. The contributor says the recent incident was reported to the police, who initially failed to respond. When a follow-up request was made, and cc’d to the local MSP, the police did respond and claimed they then visited the estate, armed with a grid reference, but couldn’t find the corpse. A police investigation into alleged hare snaring on the estate was not forthcoming.

The snaring legislation in Scotland has been recently updated, bringing in new requirements for snare-operator training & accreditation, snare-operator ID tags to be fitted to snares, and record keeping for every single set snare. GWCT has produced a snaring guide (2012) that provides detailed information for snaring in different parts of the UK – see here. OneKind has it’s own view on the adequacy of the snare-training courses on offer – see here.


Photo: clam trap – why haven’t these been banned?

This is a photograph of a clam trap, also known as a snapper trap, butterfly trap and Larsen mate trap. They are used to trap corvids, although obviously the traps are indiscriminate and can also be used to catch raptors and other protected species. We’ve recently blogged about clam traps and the controversy over whether they are a legal or an illegal trap (see here).

The clam trap photographed here shows a slight variation of use. Usually the trap will be held open by a false perch that collapses when weight is applied (e.g. when a bird lands on it) which causes the trap to snap shut. In this photo the false perch is absent and instead, the trap is set to snap shut when weight is applied to the base (e.g. when a bird lands on the bait).

It’s quite incredible that SNH has not yet banned the use of these traps on welfare grounds. Just look at the photograph. Imagine if a large raptor (e.g. buzzard, kite, goshawk, eagle) is caught in one of these things. Apart from the injuries that could be caused to the bird when the trap snaps shut (they are designed to shut with speed and force so it’s highly probable that the bird’s wings will still be open and thus caught in the jaws of the trap as it snaps shut), the trapped bird then has to endure up to 24 hours inside this cage before it is checked by the trap operator. Would it be able to move inside the trap? Does it have a perch? Does it have water? Does it have shelter? All these are basic requirements covering the use of crow cage traps and Larsen traps where a decoy bird is in use. Why should a clam trap be exempt from these welfare requirements? Is it because there isn’t a decoy bird in use? What about the welfare requirements of the trapped bird, whether it be a target or a non-target species? It’s probably fair to say that it would be stressful for any large raptor to be caught inside one of these things, whether it’s injured or not, and to be trapped like that for up to 24 hours? That’s assuming the trap operator bothers to do the 24 hour check. In our view it fails on all welfare considerations. The general licences used to permit the use of crow traps also explicitly ‘do not permit the use of any form of spring-over trap’. What’s this then if it isn’t a form of spring-over trap? Some organisations have argued that it isn’t a form of spring-over trap…no prizes for guessing who that was.

Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association supports the use of these traps (see here and here) as does Scottish Land and Estates [formerly known as SRPBA] (see here).

Whilst we all wait for SNH to make a decision on the legality of clam traps….if you see one of these traps you are advised to report it immediately to the police, SSPCA and RSPB. As with the other crow cage traps, the clam trap should have an identification code attached along with the telephone number of the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer. See here for a discussion on the legalities of other crow cage traps and what to do when you find one.


Photo: hiding the evidence

This is a photo of a dead buzzard inside a hole. How did it get there? Did the person who illegally killed the buzzard stuff it inside the hole to hide the evidence from casual passers-by? Or did the buzzard crawl inside the hole to die of natural causes? Yep, that must be it. Didn’t 13 of them do the same thing on a Scottish sporting estate a few years ago? Interesting that they all chose rabbit holes within close proximity to a crow cage trap. Oh and then there were the gunshot wounds…

Red kites have also been known to do it, funnily enough on another Scottish sporting estate. First they removed their wing tags, placed them in a hole and then covered the hole with moss. Then they severed their own legs, placed those in holes and also covered the holes in moss. Remarkable.


Photo: an illegal pole trap

Many of our readers will already know what a pole trap looks like, but for those who don’t, here’s a photograph of one (taken recently in Scotland).

These traps were outlawed in the UK in 1904 but are still in regular (illegal) use today. They are nothing short of barbaric. They are often positioned on posts close to game-rearing pens or on exposed posts on grouse moors with the sole intention of catching a perching raptor. When the raptor lands on the trap the spring jaws snap around the leg(s) with such force that the leg is usually broken. When the raptor tries to fly away it is prevented from doing so as the spring trap is nailed to the post. The raptor is left dangling from the post with appalling injuries and usually suffers a prolonged and agonising death (see Tuesday’s photo here).

If you see a pole trap you should report it immediately (to the police, SSPCA, RSPB). If you have to walk away from the trap (e.g. to get a phone signal), take a photograph of the set trap (preferably with a local landscape feature in the background so the photo can be used as evidence) and then disarm it. Use a stick to disarm it – not your fingers – the spring action of these traps is so powerful it can break an eagle’s legs.


Photo: live buzzard caught in illegal pole trap


The camera never lies: new photo gallery for the blog

We’ve added a new category to the blog called Photo Gallery. It can be accessed via the category list in the right-hand column. 

Photos will be added to the gallery periodically to create a useful resource of images in one location. The main focus of the photos will be raptor persecution, of course, but we’ll also include other related images.

You can join in! If you’d like to contribute any photographs for publication, please send them to:


Anonymity goes without saying but photo credit given if that’s what you’d prefer. Get snapping!

First photo to follow shortly…

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