Gamekeeper convicted of setting an illegal pole trap

Here’s another example of how our fine ‘custodians of the countryside’ are the “most effective conservationists working in the British countryside today“.

On 9 December 2013 at Herefordshire Magistrates Court, 39-year old gamekeeper Wayne Priday was convicted of setting an illegal pole trap close to his pheasant release pen near Elton, close to Ludlow, in August this year.

He was fined £375 and ordered to pay £170 costs. Gosh, a £545 fine – that’ll learn ‘im.

Priday was caught thanks to covert video footage filmed by the RSPB Investigations Team. (Remember, this is in England where covert video evidence is readily accepted by the courts, unlike here in Scotland).

RSPB investigators visited Priday’s pheasant pen on 7th August 2013 and found a pole trap set in position on top of a post. The trap had been camouflaged with moss. Investigators disabled the trap and set a covert camera in place to identify the trap user.

The following day, along came Priday who was filmed examining the trap and clearly looking puzzled that it had been sprung without catching anything (see the covert video footage here – it’s hilarious). He unfastened the trap, put it in his vehicle and drove away.

Priday was later interviewed by West Mercia Police and he admitted setting the trap, although he claimed it was for squirrels.

Well done to the RSPB Investigations Team and also to West Mercia Police for a successful conviction.

We wonder whether Priday is a member of the National Gamekeepers Organisation? And if so, whether they will be expelling him from their club or whether they think Priday’s crime is not a ‘wildlife crime’ (e.g. as they did here). Shall we ask them? Emails to:

Pole traps have been illegal in the UK since 1904. Essentially they consist of a spring trap which is attached to a post, often by a chain. Posts are often used by birds of prey to perch on to give them a good vantage point. When the raptor lands on the set pole trap, one or both of its legs gets caught in the jaws of the trap. When the bird attempts to fly away it is prevented from doing so because the trap is attached to the post. This causes the bird to dangle upside down where it will inevitably die a prolonged and horrific death. It is probably one of the most barbaric traps around, hence it being banned for over 100 years.

Here is a photograph of a buzzard (still alive) caught in another pole trap. It did not survive its injuries.

7 thoughts on “Gamekeeper convicted of setting an illegal pole trap”

  1. Why’s vid evidence not admissible in court in Scotland? Is it because they’re desperate to be seen to be different (and therefore seperate) from the English?

    1. You’d have to ask COPFS. Although recently the Environment Minister has made statements that indicate he wants COPFS and the police to start accepting covert video footage as admissible evidence. We’ll see….one current case looks set to test it…..

  2. Looks like Wayne Priday is a little slow on the uptake!

    They should certainly allow video footage in Scotland, can not understand why it is not admissible, as in the case of the crows being bludgeoned to death.

  3. By not allowing video evidence they may be creating a getout loophole for criminals in other activities such as robbery and assault etc, where security surveillance cameras are used. Surveillance cameras are in use throughout Scotland, is the data from these also inadmissible, if not what’s the difference? A good lawyer may be able to use the ruling in court.

  4. its not the shear nastyness of the offence, pole trapping being a very very unpleasant activity that one has almost come to expect from scum elements of a generally scummy “profession” that galls . Its the shear cynicism of trying to get a lighter sentence by pleading the squirrel defence. That in itself should get a much more severe penalty. If I want to rid an area of grey squirrels the legitimate techniques work extremely well, whereas poletraps are pretty good if pretty horrible and long illegal method at catching raptors that hunt from perches. His defence team should hang their heads in complicit shame.

  5. Well well, another day another gamekeeper in court this December, there’s little doubt gamekeepers are going to be top of the wildlife crime charts this Christmas. How on earth can Alex Hogg and Lindsay Waddell be allowed to represent gamekeepers on PAWS when they are both in total denial of the situation and have been for some years, here are just a few of Alex Hogg’s quotes, there are many more out there just as ridiculous.

    Alex Hogg blames conservationists for depleting golden eagle population December 13th 2010

    Professional gamekeepers do not poison raptors says Alex Hogg 27th may 2011

    Unfair to accuse gamekeepers of wildlife crime says gamekeeper Alex June 6th 2011

    SGA suggests that trees are biggest threat to golden eagles 2nd December 2013

    Lindsay Waddell is no better, here’s his most recent comment

    Protection of predators and persecution of sporting estates are bad for birdlife 8th December 2013

    If these two were premier league managers they wouldn’t have lasted a week in the job, unfortunately if you don’t tackle a problem you become part of it, these two are, in my view, a major contributory factors in why Raptor persecution still exists today, they still constantly employ the same old stalling tactics and counter arguments against any comments made regarding the game keeping profession. Its time for these two to leave their posts and let someone do their jobs properly for them. don’t take my word for it simply look at the overwhelming evidence appearing in the countries courtrooms today

    [Ed: Thanks Merlin. Edited slightly!]

  6. The reply I received from NGO. Surprised? Not in the least.

    Dear Mr Walsh

    Thank you for your enquiry. We have no record of this man ever having been a member of the NGO. Our organisation stands for gamekeeping within the law and our policy on members who break it is set out on our website.

    Kind regards, Ann

    National Gamekeepers Organisation

    P O Box 246


    DL1 9FZ

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