Posts Tagged ‘Larsen Trap’

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, that’s largely to do with being fairly busy at work and also not wanting to sit in my studio in front of a computer wearing my pants and sweating like George Adams in Peterborough Magistrates Court. However my desire to comment on a recent news story was enough to put fingers to keyboard once again (that and more reasonable temperatures).

The Hunt Investigation Team were the people behind the now famous Herefordshire Hunt Fox Cub case, and while undertaking a new investigation of the Barlow Hunt in Derbyshire they were contacted by someone with regards to the persecution of predators which was being undertaken by known local bloodsports enthusiasts within the Peak District National Park. This program of predator control consisted of a vast network of Larsen traps (invented in Denmark where incidentally they are now banned for being inhumane) and the shooting of foxes at a time when both species would have dependent young that would no doubt starve.

Now this sort of thing is common practice on heavily managed Grouse moors where maximum bags of Grouse mean big financial benefits to the owners of the shoot however in this instance the organisation who commissioned this cruelty was in fact the RSPB.

This isn’t anything new, the RSPB carry out culling of certain species on their reserves if they deem that they represent a critical problem to endangered birds or present a risk to the habitat however in this instance it would seem they excelled themselves. Killing one animal to save another is, they claim a last resort however it would seem in this case they were employing the very people that they are meant to oppose.

You have to ask yourself how can they fight against the culling of Ravens on one hand and with the other massacre their close relatives with another? The population of foxes is in severe decline (41% since 1996) so why are these wonderful animals being further persecuted by a so called environmental charity?

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A Curlew on the Isle of Mull

It all comes down to the Curlew.

The Curlew was cited as the reason a dodgy collective of shooting interests got together (Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW)) and was granted a license to kill Ravens in Scotland, something the RSPB rightly challenged although this has now been suspended after being proven to be devoid of any scientific justification and anyone with an IQ above 30 would know this was more about protecting Grouse than Curlew.

The Curlew is, it seems top of the list of birds that require action to prevent the further decline in their population. However the RSPB themselves will claim that the biggest threats to the Curlew are environmental. Both harmful farming methods and poor land management are the reason the Curlew has suffered so much. Exterminating predators that may or may not impact on the current population is not an acceptable course of action to take and certainly one many of their members will feel uneasy about.

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Perhaps it should read “giving some nature a home, others a bullet”?

I’m lucky enough to have seen many Curlew, nearly all while on Holiday on the Isle of Mull. While Mull doesn’t have foxes it does have a very healthy Raven and Hooded Crow (a very close relative of the Carrion Crow) population along with many raptors and other mustalid predators. So what makes them so successful there?

The ideal environment for them, ample nesting sites and feeding opportunities with little or no disturbance from humans.

As far as I’m concerned everything has a right to life, killing one species to save another is, in my eyes a very slippery slope indeed and even more so when the people doing the killing are those which you oppose in every other aspect of your work. Rather than undertaking these hugely questionable practices they should be concentrating on restoring the habitat and rewilding the very areas that are so poorly managed. When the people at the HIT got in touch with the RSPB the response they got was poor to say the least (you can read the whole story here). You would expect an organisation with these kind of huge resources to respond properly and at least attempt to offer some kind of justification but it appears they are above all that. There’s no doubt they do some good work but many people, including myself will now be considering their membership in light of these disgraceful practices.

UPDATE: It seems the RSPB have responded after the pressure was mounting on them to provide some sort of explanation. You can read it here. Quite frankly it falls well short of the mark and judging by the comments they will be losing many members and the money which goes with them.

Interestingly one comment highlighted an article by the excellent George Monbiot and gives an insight into the thinking of the RSPB and the problem with their “solution”. You can read it here.

You definitely won’t find a teddy bears picnic. Bears, like most of our large predators were hunted to extinction in the UK many years ago (1000 AD) and obviously not satisfied we seem to be hell bent on removing everything else predatory whether it flies, runs or slithers.

The argument that man has to take the place of the predators is also a non-starter. Ecosystems are built on evolutionary change over millions of years and these fragile food webs require natural apex predators to prevent a top down trophic cascade. One has to wonder then why, in these enlightened times are we as a species failing to understand our role and how to best minimise the negative affect our existence has on the planet.

This brings me to the point of predator persecution. The main cause is conflict with man and his interests. Some species are afforded protection but this seems to have little effect on actually saving them. It was great to see the petition to ban driven grouse shooting go past the 100,000 mark and will now be debated in Parliament, so well done to all that signed it and Mark Avery for starting it in the first place but the fact still remains that shooting estates and their keepers are the primary reason for loss of predators. Some can be legally killed including Foxes, Stoats, Weasels and  Corvids and all will meet their end in large numbers in all sorts of barbaric and grisly ways. It may be OK in the eyes of the law but from a moral and ethical standpoint its an abomination. Why should these species have to suffer just because some moron with a personality defect likes to kill a certain species of bird, that’s been artificially reared to provide an unnaturally high population, just for fun?

I’m always happy when someone redresses that balance in just a little way. I was sent these pictures (Police please note – it’s not illegal to report or publish this, I don’t want you banging on my door again) a couple of weeks ago which show both  (assumed) legal and illegal traps.

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This is a Larsen trap, complete with live Crow. The live bird will tempt other birds into the trap whereupon the gamekeeper will return and bash their skulls in with a large stick. The strict requirements for operating these traps are listed below.

The welfare of decoy birds is well-covered by law. If any of the following conditions are not being met then the trap is being operated illegally:

– Suitable food must be readily accessible
– Clean drinkable water must be available all of the time
– There must be shelter which protects the bird from prevailing weather conditions
– There must be a perch placed under the shelter
– No decoy bird can be left in a trap when the trap is not in use
– Operators can not use any live bird or animal which is tethered, or secured by means of         braces or other similar appliances, or is blind, maimed or injured.

Operation of the trap

The law is clear on how a live-catch trap must be operated.

Every trap must be physically inspected at least once every day at intervals of no more than 24 hours – and the inspection must be sufficient to determine whether there are any live or dead birds or other animals in the trap (so eg not a quick glance from a vehicle parked at a distance from the trap).

ALL Non-target species caught in a Larsen or Cage trap must be released UNHARMED immediately upon discovery.

At each inspection any dead animal, including any dead bird, caught in the trap should be removed from it.

Any birds killed in accordance with the general licences must be killed in a quick and humane manner (in Wales the general licences require that any bird held captive before being killed must be killed out of sight of other captive birds). In England a separate licence issued by Natural England is required to a trapped bird.

In Scotland each trap must carry a sign that gives the operator’s ID number and the number of the local police station or the Wildlife Crime Officer for the area.

Now just by looking I can see that several of these license requirements are being breached and therefore the trap could be deemed as illegal. Obviously there is no official monitoring of these requirements so it is no wonder that they are open to so much abuse. Fortunately for this Crow it was removed and sent for rehabilitation and release.

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The sign on top of the trap shows it’s been in use for a lengthy period but what it actually proclaims is a complete lie.

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The license restriction are clearly being ignored so the first statement is wrong for a start. The live bird isn’t being well cared for either and it’s not in accordance with the game conservancy requirements but the most galling statement is the claim that it is being used as some kind of conservation effort to encourage more wildlife.

The simple fact is you won’t find these devices anywhere else apart from shooting estates. They aren’t interested in other wildlife, the only thing are interested in is their profits from shooting and providing the highest number of game birds to shoot for their clients. Needless to say this cage was probably visited by the woodland pixies and won’t be trapping any more Corvids.

The second device is something not often seen and is indeed illegal although freely available to purchase.

raptor trap

Baited with a dead Pheasant a scavenging raptor, most likely a Buzzard or Red Kite will land on the device whereupon it will set off the spring and the net will capture the bird, alive. What happens to the captured bird next is unlikely to be pleasant. The use of this trap is currently being investigated so there is little more I can say however once again it shows what Gamekeepers and shooting estates are up to. These devices were happened upon by members of the public out walking, one wonders how many other horrors would be found on much closer inspection of these private estates (things like this maybe)? Estates which, incidentally we help pay for through farm subsidies. I for one don’t accept this kind of barbarity so dear reader if you do go down to the woods today, just keep your eyes open, you never know what you might find.

If you do find something which you believe to be illegal please report it your local wildlife crime officer or the RSPB here.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog (thanks BTW) then you will have no doubt seen the destruction caused by Gamekeepers in an effort to protect their precious stock of Pheasants (Woodland of Death). Although not completely illegal their methods are certainly immoral and downright disgraceful. I will always fail to see the justification in slaughtering any wild animal just because it has the potential come into conflict with the rearing of any animal let alone ones which will die at the hands of a sociopath in tweed with a shotgun.

When I first saw the images sent to me I was sickened, although certainly not surprised. This kind of thing is going on all over the countryside, largely away from the view of the general public but it is persecution on an industrial scale. Quite frankly I’m amazed that we have any wildlife left. The source of the images assured me it wouldn’t be the last I’d hear about it and they were true to their word.

It would appear however that things were worse than originally anticipated. The original midden or stink pile I published video of wasn’t the only one in that location. Another was found and of course surrounded by snares, Fen and Larsen traps. If this wasn’t enough poison bait was situated alongside nearly all the feeders. Although targeting rodents the local raptor and owl population would suffer accordingly as they would prey on and scavenge the poisoned animals. Whether this was an actual targeted persecution by proxy attempt it’s difficult to tell however the results would be the same and using poison in this manner hugely irresponsible, not that I’d personally condone the use of poison at all.

Needless to say all the snares and traps were removed or rendered useless. A live pheasant was also remove from one of the snares and released, ironic that the birds the gamekeeper was trying to protect were indeed falling foul to the devices he installed. Snare aren’t selective, they’re cruel and indiscriminate. The large pheasant pen at the location was devoid of any birds so what the gamekeeper is trying to protect is clearly open to question. Perhaps he’s just another psychopath who enjoys inflicting pain on animals or has some kind of inbred and inexplainable but pathological hatred for wildlife. Regardless of this I’d like to see the their face when his does his rounds next time. No doubt all the killing devices will be replaced soon enough but my source has no doubt given him something to think about and some more work to do.

Have a look through the pictures. Although disturbing they clearly illustrate the persecution our wildlife suffers at the hands of the shooting industry. Among the dead animals were rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, wood pigeons, roe deer, foxes, a jay, crows and rooks plus many others which had decayed beyond identification. I don’t think this is acceptable and how the shooting industry can claim to be working on the side of conservation just shows their arrogance or stupidity.

Petition to ban snares.

Stink pile 1

Stink pile 1

Stink pile 2

Stink pile 2

 

Fen trap in feed bucket, this is an illegal use.

Fen trap in feed bucket, this is an illegal use.

Pheasant caught in snare.

Pheasant caught in snare.

 

Poison bait

One of many snares

One of many snares

The removed snares and traps.

The removed snares and traps.

 

Our wildlife is under constant pressure. Pressure from development and the demand for new land due to human expansion, the pressure of modern farming where if it doesn’t make money it’s considered a nuisance and the pressure of those who treat the environment as a plaything, to do with as they wish regardless of the long term consequences. This malevolent force is the same which releases millions of non-native birds into our ecosystems every year, with little chance of survival, purely for the benefit of a very small demographic with the sufficient funds and a love for killing, so they can be blasted from the sky purely for the enjoyment of killing a living thing. These people of course would never do their own dirty work, that is of course down to that most strange and disturbed individual better known as the Gamekeeper. Their sole purpose in life is to protect their valuable crop of Pheasants (or Grouse depending on where you are in the country) from anything which they perceive may do them harm or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Raptors suffer hugely at the hands of Gamekeepers, illegally persecuted with little chance of retribution although the RSPB and similar organisations are doing their best to bring these people to justice and with some success although seem to fail to take on the shooting industry directly. However what isn’t seen is the tragically legal persecution of our other species which goes on out of sight of the public. A grotesque yet common practice of trapping and snaring anything which just happens to inhabit the same piece of woodland where the pheasant pens are located.

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A detailed report with video and photos came into my possession which has to be put into the public domain. A small section of woodland was discovered which contained no less than 7 Larsen traps and various other cages (some containing live Magpies, designed to catch Corvids), over 10 Fen traps all set and some baited with eggs (these are designed to kill Weasels, Stoats and Rats) and most disgustingly 8 free running snares secured with breeze blocks or other heavy items. Snares are massively cruel and indiscriminate. Anything can become trapped in them and will then go on to suffer a slow and agonizing death or if they’re lucky something slightly less offensive in the form of the Gamekeepers shotgun or blunt instrument to the head. Deer, Foxes and Badgers can all fall prey to snares and family pets are just as likely should they wander in these areas. All of the devices described surrounded a Pheasant pen which in turn was surrounded by lots of shooting towers. Even though the pens were empty of Pheasants, the traps were still in operation.

The images are somewhat disturbing. The stench of death I’m told, will stay with those who were there for a long time to come. If you think this is an acceptable way to treat our wildlife then stop reading now, go back to reading your Daily Mail and prepare to vote UKIP or Tory in May. For everyone else with a decent level of compassion to our fellow beings I suggest you get involved and start to make a difference. Soon our wonderful and diverse countryside and the wildlife that lives in it will be diminished beyond a sustainable level, to be replaced with a sterile environment, overrun with a hapless non-native species and only good for those who like to kill things for fun. This is happening all over the country, what we’ve witnessed here is just a microcosm of the organised and systematic destruction of our native species. This is the true impact of the shooting industry and it’s time to make a change.

Sign the petition to ban snares here.