Gamekeeper convicted for setting illegal pole trap

Ryan Waite setting the pole trap.JPG-400x0Press release from RSPB:

A gamekeeper has been convicted of using an illegal trap on a shooting estate on two occasions.

At Harrogate Magistrate’s Court today (13 February) Ryan Waite, employed as a gamekeeper on the Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire was sentenced on two charges of illegally setting a spring trap between May and June 2013.

Waite had pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing on December 10, 2013.

However, he had denied that the trap was intended for birds of prey, as alleged by the prosecution, claiming rather that it was for catching squirrels.

The court today ruled that his conduct had been reckless.

He was fined £250 with an additional £105 costs and victim surcharge. 

Following an initial report from the League Against Cruel Sports, on the 2nd June, RSPB Investigations visited Ox Close plantation on the Swinton Estate, North Yorkshire, and discovered a spring trap that had been placed on top of a two-metre high tree stump. These are commonly known as pole traps and have been banned since 1904.

Birds of prey are usually the target of such devices as they use the elevated position as a vantage point and the traps are strategically placed where they will hunt.

RSPB Investigations disabled the trap and then set up covert surveillance of the site to monitor who was responsible and two days later, on 4th June, Waite was filmed re-setting the trap on top of the stump.

As a result of this footage, North Yorkshire Police executed a search warrant, assisted by the RSPB. Although the spring trap had been removed from the pole trap site, it was later found and seized at Waite’s property.  Waite was also caught on camera removing the trap.

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “It is a disappointing reality that the use of pole traps still occurs in 2013 and that some gamekeepers are continuing to adopt these Victorian techniques. The device was deemed outdated and barbaric in 1904, yet a century on we are still finding these illegal traps being set in the countryside.  Sentencing needs to get tougher to ensure people are deterred from operating such devices in the future.

“We welcome today’s result as it shows that such barbaric practices will not be tolerated in today’s society.”   

There’s a good blog about this case written by the RSPB Investigations Team here.

There’s also an opportunity to view the covert footage showing Waite re-setting the pole trap here

Congratulations to the RSPB Investigations team for another job well done, and to the fieldworkers from the League Against Cruel Sports for identifying the illegal trap and alerting the authorities.

Bowland Betty (1)Swinton Estate has been described as “very well known and highly respected” by the author of The World’s Best Shoots (see here).

Swinton Estate is also ‘very well known’ for being the grouse moor location where hen harrier Bowland Betty’s shot corpse was found in 2012 (see here). Purely coincidental, obviously.

What interests us now is whether convicted gamekeeper Ryan Waite will keep his job, and whether he was/is a member of the National Gamekeepers Organisation. Let’s ask the NGO whether this criminal is from their ranks and if he is, whether they will continue to accept his membership. Emails to:

UPDATE 14/2: The NGO has issued a statement to say convicted gamekeeper Ryan Waite has never been one of their members (see here).

We’re still interested in whether this convicted gamekeeper will keep his job at the “highly respected” Swinton Estate. Emails to:

12 thoughts on “Gamekeeper convicted for setting illegal pole trap”

  1. A Squirrel trap costs £13, it is specifically for Squirrels and Rabbits, a pole trap is set specifically for Raptors, one is legal one is bannedwasn’t there a similar case not long ago. Are we now to see a resurgence of Pole trapping. Once again the pathetic fines fail to cover the time and effort people have put into bringing these criminals to justice, once again they fail to act as a deterrent to others. isn’t it time for draconian measures, Hogg went on national TV and rebuked persecution of Raptors by Gamekeepers, while we all know he was lying sadly there are still members of the shooting fraternity who are in complete denial and will still believe these lies. Well done to all involved

  2. So should we presume that he has been sacked and expunged from the NGO?

    Or will he just be sent on a “how not to get caught” course?

  3. At least in England the surveillance evidence was admissible in court. Here in Scotland it would have been deemed unlawful re the bludgeoning to death of birds in a gage a few years ago.

    Is Hogg still in denial about gamekeepers being involved in wildlife crime.

  4. Am I the only one to be concerned about this individual wandering around with what looks like a shotgun? I would imagine that someone who carries out criminal activities with a shotgun is not really a fit and proper person to hold a shotgun licence?

  5. The monkey was only doing what the organ grinder asked of it and therefore the fine was equal to the monkeys wages,( yeh peanuts ) which was more than likely paid via the tin collection cup held out in the hands of the organ grinder and also out of the “bonus” the monkey would have received for its ” tricks” ie killing animals in a very cowardly and barbaric manner and informing the organ grinder of job done and I’m sure in all these cases the monkey has to show the result of its “tricks” how else would the organ grinder know the monkey is doing its job.
    Yet again the public gets an insight into the mentality of our judiciary in this country regarding the sicking manner in which freaks kill animals. It would appear that some people in “public office ” and receiving their earnings via the public purse seem to think it’s beneth them in having to deal with “court papers” regarding “wildlife crime” am sure they would rather get something more interesting,may be a GBH on a pensioner,where they could really hand out a severe punishment to the offender with many previous convictions for assault , such as community service …
    All that can be said is well done to all who put in the work to bring about the ultimate conviction of a “wildlife criminal”xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx [Ed: this sentence deleted].

    Will his shotgun license be revoked ? Does he even own a shotgun or have a shotgun license? As he would rather use other methods to kill ( did he or someone make the illegal pole trap for him or did he or the “management ” buy it.)Are these matters even put to the offender or Estastes management (only asking)
    Why can’t those convicted of wildlife crimes not be made to sign a “wildlife crime register” so they can’t run off to another part of the country to carry out their crimes for an Estate who are willing to employ someone who knows a thing or two about getting rid of “vermin” Just a thought.
    Keep up the good work to those decent people who care about protecting our wildlife.

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