Posts Tagged ‘pole trap

29
Mar
17

Court case continues for Angus Glens gamekeeper accused of alleged pole trapping offences

Criminal proceedings continued yesterday (28 March 2017) against Scottish gamekeeper Craig Graham.

Mr Graham, 51, is accused of allegedly setting and re-setting a pole trap, baited with a pheasant carcass, on the Brewlands Estate in the Angus Glens between 9-17 July 2015. He has denied the charges.

This case was first called on 31 March 2016, then on 22 April 2016, then on 12 May 2016 when Mr Graham pleaded not guilty. A provisional trial date was set for 9th September 2016.

This trial date was later dumped (at a hearing on 16 August 2016) and another provisional trial date was set for 5th December 2016. This was also later dumped and a third provisional date (at a hearing on 5 December 2016) was set for 15 May 2017.

At yesterday’s hearing, the case was adjourned, again, for a further intermediate diet scheduled for 25 April 2017. We don’t know whether the third provisional trial date of 15 May 2017 still stands – it depends what happens at the hearing on 25 April 2017.

Previous blogs on this case herehere and here

17
Mar
17

Update on illegally-set traps on Glendye grouse moor

Two months ago we blogged about a series of illegally-set traps that had been photographed on the grouse moor of Glendye Estate in Aberdeenshire (see here).

We, and many of you (thank you) passed on the information to the local Police Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer, PC Doug Darling in the hope that an investigation might take place. We contacted him again a few days ago and asked if he was able to provide an update on this case.

He told us that an enquiry had been carried out in the area the day after the incident had been reported to the police, but no illegally-set traps had been found.

The person who had taken the photographs and published them on a blog was then contacted by the police, to learn as much as possible about the incident (how the traps were set, whether any baits had been seen etc).

The police then visited the Estate Factor and the gamekeeper, who were in possession of the traps as they had been informed of the incident by the original witness. PC Darling told us: “They took it upon themselves to remove the traps in case something were to become caught and denied knowing whose traps they were and how they came to be found on the estate set in an illegal manor [sic]”.

That’s interesting. What would you do if you were working in the land management sector and a member of the public told you they’d found illegally-set traps on your land? Wouldn’t you leave the evidence in place and immediately notify the police?

Anyway, PC Darling went on: “Given we have no physical evidence it would not be possible to report the incident to the Procurator Fiscal however Scottish Natural Heritage are aware of the incident and we will be discussing any other measures we could pursue given the circumstances“.

Presumably ‘any other measures’ would include SNH putting a General Licence restriction order on this Estate, because according to SNH guidelines, evidence which may be considered by SNH in any decision to impose a General Licence restriction includes:

Illegal placement, design or use of traps or methods that are not in compliance with the requirements of the General Licence‘.

We’ll see if that happens because of course much still depends on the findings of the judicial review, which examined the process SNH used to impose a General Licence restriction on Raeshaw Estate back in 2015. The court’s decision has not yet been announced, at least not in public.

This case highlights something we discussed yesterday when blogging about the pine marten that had been caught in a spring trap on another grouse shooting estate in Scotland (see here). If every trap had to carry a unique police-issued number identifying the registered trap-user, then this investigation might have ended with a better result. As happens over and over again, whoever set these traps has escaped being held to account for their criminal activities.

PC Darling deserves full credit here. Not only did he launch an investigation the day after being alerted to these traps, he then followed up with the witness and paid a visit to those responsible for managing the land, and he was also very quick and willing to explain what had happened when asked about this case. What a breath of fresh air. His actions will inspire confidence for anyone else thinking about reporting a suspected wildlife crime in this region, rather than the brick wall we’ve become accustomed to expect from Police Scotland. Let’s hope his senior officers take note and applaud his efforts as much as we do.

16
Mar
17

Illegal pole trap set next to pheasant pen on Lanarkshire shooting estate

An article was published yesterday on The Ferret website about an illegal pole trap found next to a pheasant pen on an unnamed shooting estate in Lanarkshire.

Unfortunately the article now sits behind a paywall because we’ve viewed our allotted three free articles in one month, so we can’t add the actual link here. Some of you will be able to access the specific article by visiting The Ferret website and searching for it, or you can subscribe and get access to everything they publish.

Here’s an overview of the pole trap incident:

On 7 September 2015 at around 10.30am an investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports (Scotland) found an illegal pole trap that had been positioned next to a pheasant-rearing pen. The trap was set (i.e. the safety catch was off) and had been placed on top of a freshly-dead pheasant.

The investigator phoned the SSPCA who attended the scene at around 1.30pm and said the police should be called.

At 3.09pm, a man arrived at the pen carrying a bag of pheasant feed and was informed an illegal pole trap had been found next to the pen’s entrance door. Despite being warned not to tamper with potential police evidence, the man removed the trap from the pheasant bait and left it dangling from the post. He then entered the pen, fed the pheasants and then left the scene.

Two police officers turned up at 4pm and took the trap away in an evidence bag.

The police subsequently dropped the case.

The League Against Cruel Sports have published a video from the scene – watch it here.

The point being made in The Ferret article is that had the SSPCA been given increased investigatory powers, the SSPCA officer attending the scene would have been permitted to remove the illegal trap and collect it as evidence before the man came along and dismantled it, and the outcome of this case could have been very different.

As regular blog readers will know, we are still waiting for a long-overdue decision from the Scottish Government about whether the SSPCA will be given increased investigatory powers. Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said in January 2017 that a decision would be announced in the first half of 2017.

18
Jan
17

Illegally set traps on Glendye Estate grouse moor, Aberdeenshire

Have a look at this blog. You’ll see a series of photographs, taken yesterday (17 January 2017) on a grouse moor at Glendye, just beyond the famous Clachnaben hill, which is part of the Fasque & Glendye Estate according to Andy Wightman’s always useful website Who Owns Scotland. This area looks like it’s the area covered by the Glendye Grouse Syndicate who apparently took on a 20-year lease of this moor in 1997.

We’re not allowed to reproduce the photographs here so you’ll have to click the link if you want to see them. And you really should see them.

Three of these photographs depict illegally-set traps. They are all ‘bridge traps’ – comprising a Fenn spring trap fixed to a log across a burn or gully and designed to catch so-called ‘vermin’ such as stoats or weasels. This type of trap is legal if the trap is covered either in a natural or artificial tunnel, but the three traps photographed yesterday are definitely illegal.

One is covered with wire mesh but the entry and exit holes are wide open. This is illegal. These entry/exit holes are supposed to be partially closed to minimise the risk of catching non-target species. This trap in the photograph could easily catch a non-target species, including protected Scottish wildcats, otters and pine martens.

The other two spring traps are totally uncovered except for a single wire loop above each trap. A wire loop is not going to protect any species from standing on these traps and thus both traps are illegal. These two traps are effectively pole traps – if a bird or mammal stands on the trap, the trap will fall from the log, with the animal attached (probably by the leg), and the animal will dangle, suspended below the log, until it dies a slow, miserable death.

We don’t know whether the photographer has reported these crimes to the local police. We would hope he has – he understands that the traps are illegally-set (the safety catch is not on – we’ve looked) so we’d expect him to have provided grid references and photographs to the local Police Wildlife Crime Officer. In case he hasn’t reported them, we’ll do it for him, although by now the individual who set these traps has probably been alerted and is probably out on the moor removing all the evidence as we speak.

The local Police Wildlife Crime Officer is Doug Darling. Here’s his email address: douglas.darling@scotland.pnn.police.uk

Ask him for a crime reference number so we can follow up what action he has taken to identify the individual(s) responsible. This is important because after his investigation, we expect him to alert SNH to these illegal traps. Why? Well, because these illegal traps should result in the withdrawal of the General Licence on this grouse moor. According to SNH guidelines, evidence which may be considered by SNH in any decision to impose a General Licence restriction includes:

Illegal placement, design or use of traps or methods that are not in compliance with the requirements of the General Licence‘.

However, the evidence must be provided by the Police. So, just in case the Police ‘forget’ to tell SNH, we’ll notify SNH as well so they can’t then argue they haven’t been informed. Emails should be sent to Nick Halfhide, Director of Operations: nick.halfhide@snh.gov.uk 

To be fair to SNH, they are probably awaiting the findings of the Raeshaw Estate judicial review before they impose any more General Licence restrictions. That’s fine, they can just add this case to the others they’re currently sitting on and hopefully they’ll be in a position to take action in due course.

And, if you’re in the mood for writing emails, you might also want to alert the Environment Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, to these illegally-set traps. The information will be very helpful as she ponders the issue of introducing state-regulated licensing. These photographs confirm that law-breaking continues, despite the grouse shooting industry’s fervent claims to the contrary. Emails to: scottish.ministers@gov.scot and mark it FAO Roseanna Cunningham.

We wonder what the grouse shooting industry’s Gift of Grouse project has to say about these illegal traps? We wonder if Glendye is part of the Grampian Moorland Group, which in turn is part of the Gift of Grouse propaganda campaign? That’d be interesting…..

UPDATE 17 March 2017: Update on illegally-set traps on Glendye grouse moor (here)

07
Dec
16

Further delay in case against Angus Glens gamekeeper accused of pole trapping offences

Criminal proceedings continued on Monday (5 December 2016) against Scottish gamekeeper Craig Graham.

Mr Graham, 51, is accused of setting and re-setting a pole trap, baited with a pheasant carcass, on the Brewlands Estate between 9-17 July 2015. He has denied the charges.

This case was first called on 31 March 2016. A provisional trial date was set for 9th September 2016. This date was later dumped and another provisional trial date was set for 5th December 2016.

On Monday, the case was adjourned, again. An intermediate diet is scheduled for 28 March 2017 and another provisional trial date has been scheduled for 15 May 2017. This is the third time a provisional trial date has been set for this case.

Previous blogs on this case here and here

04
Oct
16

Baited pole trap found next to pheasant pen in Devon: appeal for information

RSPB press release:

Reward for information after baited pole trap discovered on east Devon farmland

pole-trap-1

The RSPB and Devon & Cornwall Police are appealing for witnesses after a trap designed to kill birds of prey was found on farmland, next to a pheasant release pen.

Police attended a location near Dunkeswell, in the Blackdown Hills, East Devon, following a tip off recently, where they discovered a live, baited pole trap.

Police officers photographed the trap, which was set and ready to use, but left it in situ. When police returned the next day the trap had been removed. Further visits accompanied by the RSPB’s Investigations unit have yielded no more information.

pole-trap-2

Pole traps have been outlawed for more than 100 years and work by smashing the bird’s legs when it lands on the trigger plate.

Mark Thomas, a senior investigations officer at the RSPB, said: “There is a reason why these traps have been illegal for so long, they are barbaric and they are designed to kill protected birds of prey“.

Inspector Martin Taylor, wildlife crime coordinator for Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “Despite it being illegal for over a century, we are still getting reports of spring traps being placed on poles or perches set to kill birds of prey. We will prosecute anyone setting these indiscriminate and lethal traps“.

Birds of prey habitually use posts as lookouts when hunting and in this case the trap had been baited using meat to encourage a bird to land.

The trap’s presence was reported on August 11 2016 and police first visited the following day. The RSPB is offering a reward of £1,000 for information that leads to a successful prosecution.

Anybody with information should contact Devon & Cornwall Police by phoning 101 or emailing 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime reference CR/56051/16.

END

pole-trap-3

06
Sep
16

The illegal killing of birds of prey in the Cairngorms National Park

Many people think of the Cairngorms National Park as a wildlife haven. It’s what many expect of a National Park; indeed, it’s what we should all expect of a National Park.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) promotes it as such (this screen grab taken from the CNPA website):

CNPscreengrab

But just how much of a ‘wildlife haven’ is it?

Here’s the gruesome reality.

The following list, which we’ve compiled from various data sources but predominantly from the RSPB’s annual persecution reports, documents over 60 illegal raptor persecution incidents inside the Cairngorms National Park (CNP) since 2002. (The Park wasn’t formally established until 2003 but we’ve included 2002 data as the area had been mapped by then). This list includes just the crimes we know about. How many more went unreported/undiscovered?

2002

Feb: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Tomintoul

Mar: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 rabbit baits. Cromdale

2003

Apr: 3 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + 2 grey partridge baits. Kingussie, CNP

Jun: Attempted shooting of a hen harrier. Crannoch, CNP

2004

May: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cuaich, CNP

Nov: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Cromdale, CNP

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale, CNP

2005

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale, CNP

Feb: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Cromdale, CNP

Mar: 3 x poisoned buzzards, 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Crathie, CNP

2006

Jan: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Dulnain Bridge, CNP

May: 1 x poisoned raven (Mevinphos). Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

May: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Morven [corbett], CNP

May: 1 x poisoned raven + 1 x poisoned common gull (Aldicarb) + egg bait. Glenbuchat, CNP

May: egg bait (Aldicarb). Glenbuchat, CNP

Jun: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenfeshie, CNP

2007

Jan: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Glenshee, CNP

Apr: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

May: Pole trap. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

May: 1 x poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Tomintoul, CNP

May: Illegally set spring trap. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit & hare baits. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Jun: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Jul: 1 x poisoned raven (Carbofuran). Ballater, CNP

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Newtonmore, CNP

Sep: 1 x shot buzzard. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

2008

Jan: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Mar: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Nr Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Dec: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Nr Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

2009

May: 2 x poisoned ravens (Mevinphos). Delnabo, CNP

Jun: rabbit bait (Mevinphos). nr Tomintoul, CNP

Jun: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Strathdon, CNP

Jun: 1 x illegal crow trap. Nr Tomintoul, CNP

2010

Apr: Pole trap. Nr Dalwhinnie, CNP

Jun: 1 x pole-trapped goshawk. Nr Dalwhinnie, CNP

Jun: Illegally set spring trap on tree stump. Nr Dalwhinnie, CNP

Sep: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenlochy, CNP

Oct: 2 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Nr Boat of Garten, CNP

2011

Jan: 1 x shot buzzard. Nr Bridge of Brown, CNP

Mar: 1 x poisoned golden eagle (Carbofuran). Glenbuchat, CNP

Apr: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran & Aldicarb). Nr Bridge of Brown, CNP

May:  1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) + rabbit bait. Glenbuchat, CNP

May: 1 x shot short-eared owl, found stuffed under rock. Glenbuchat, CNP

Jun: 1 x shot peregrine. Pass of Ballater, CNP

Aug: grouse bait (Aldicarb). Glenlochy, CNP

Sep: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon, CNP

Nov: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Nr Strathdon, CNP

2012

Apr: 1 x shot short-eared owl. Nr Grantown-on-Spey, CNP

Apr: Peregrine nest site burnt out. Glenshee, CNP

May: Buzzard nest shot out. Nr Ballater, CNP

2013

Jan: White-tailed eagle nest tree felled. Invermark, CNP

May: 1 x shot hen harrier. Glen Gairn, CNP

May: Satellite-tagged golden eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, CNP

2014

Apr: Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’. Glenbuchat, CNP

May: Armed masked men shoot out a goshawk nest. Glen Nochty, CNP

2015

Sep: Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Lad’ found dead, suspected shot. Newtonmore, CNP

2016

May: 1 x shot goshawk. Strathdon, CNP

Jun: Illegally set spring traps. Invercauld, CNP

In addition to the above list, two recent scientific publications have documented the long-term decline of breeding peregrines on grouse moors in the eastern side of the National Park (see here) and the catastrophic decline of breeding hen harriers, also on grouse moors in the eastern side of the Park (see here).

And let’s not forget the on-going massacre of mountain hares, taking place annually within the boundary of the National Park (e.g. see here, here).

So, who still thinks the Cairngorms National Park is a ‘wildlife haven’?

With over 40% of the National Park covered by driven grouse moors, it’s anything but. The next blog will explore how the Cairngorms National Park Authority has failed, so far, to effectively address the illegal killing of birds of prey, but there is a small chink of light ahead…..more shortly.

UPDATE 7/9/16: How to stop the illegal persecution of raptors in the Cairngorms National Park (here)




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 2,803,603 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors