Illegal traps on Invercauld Estate: part 2

Further to today’s news that illegally-set traps have been found on a grouse moor on Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park (see here), we are interested in the SSPCA’s role in this investigation.

As you’ll recall, RSPB Scotland notified the SSPCA about the severely injured gull caught by both legs in two spring traps. An SSPCA Inspector attended the scene (utilising powers under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act) and was able to put the poor suffering bird out of its misery. However, the SSPCA Inspector did not conduct a wider search of the area for evidence because their current powers do not permit that.

Invercauld gull

Instead, the wider search was delayed until Police Scotland could attend (Police Scotland does have the authority to undertake searches of land to look for evidence of offences committed contrary to the Wildlife & Countryside Act). Now, this delay is NOT a criticism of Police Scotland’s actions in this case (they were on site relatively swiftly and invited both the SSPCA and RSPB Scotland Investigations to assist with the search. That’s a big improvement on some previous cases).

But, the problem of the SSPCA’s limited powers are clear in this case.

When the multi-agency search did take place ‘a few days later’, ‘clear evidence was found that eight similar traps had been deployed, attached to stakes and baited with dead rabbits, in a line stretching two hundred metres across the moor. It was also evident that these traps had been removed very recently’.

Whichever criminal had set these two traps that caught the gull was given the time to remove those further eight traps before the Police turned up.

How ridiculous is it that the SSPCA Inspector wasn’t allowed to walk two hundred metres across the grouse moor to retrieve those eight additional traps (and any other evidence that the criminal may have left lying around)? It’s plainly bonkers! Instead, there was an inevitable delay while the Police sorted themselves out (again, not a criticism in this case), allowing the criminal to distance him/herself from the crimes.

As many of you will know, on 1 Sept 2016 it will be two years since the closure of the Scottish Government’s public consultation on increased investigatory powers for the SSPCA. Three Environment Ministers later and we’re still waiting for a decision (see here). It’s pathetic.

More on this Invercauld case shortly…..

15 thoughts on “Illegal traps on Invercauld Estate: part 2”

  1. Remember there is now proof that important birds from Wildlife Tourism areas are being killed on Red Grouse moors so one industry is trying to destroy another!

  2. This is madness…… organisation with statutory powers has to wait days for another organisation with statutory powers to carry out a wider search……which results in more illegal traps being found.

    No wonder there are so very few convictions for wildlife crime offences and most of the successful cases appear to have been investigated by SSPCA.
    Call me cynical but something doesn’t add up with this.

    Lucky there was no eagle or hen harriers caught in the traps……..

    Come on Scottish Government

  3. Well done to the quick thinking hill walkers and the SSPCA. [Ed: rest of this comment deleted. The identity of the criminal has not yet been established].

    1. It must be bad… good ole Bert Burnett is confirming that it is not a set up:-

      Robert Brown:- “Seems like someone is being set up

      Bert Burnett:- “No Robert …”

      1. The self-appointed “Rural Voice” of Twitter and Mike Winters to Bert Burnett’s Bernie appeared to know this was coming having tweeted the following yesterday evening:

        “Rural Voice is away fishing tomorrow so won’t be able to respond to a press release. So for now we don’t condone any illegal activities.”

  4. Is it a coincidence that the tracks over Geallaig have recently been “improved”, with approval no doubt based on ” agricultural” use?

  5. What more evidence do the powers that be need for a case, vicarious liability could be used here as these were clearly pole traps, fenns set on the ground.

  6. If an SSPCA Inspector wasn’t allowed to walk two hundred metres to check for other traps, where do ordinary members of the public stand on this? I’d imagine that if a member of the public had just happened to have been in the area and had wandered off and discovered further traps then they could have called the attention of the inspector to them and they would have been investigated.

    1. Remember “I thought I heard a child crying, but when I followed the sound I found this”. That is your statement to the police when reporting what you find.

  7. Come on, Roseanna Cunningham, this is the perfect opportunity to announce that you are going to allow the SSPCA to investigate wildlife crimes. Seize the moment!!

  8. Scottish Police prosecute less than 2% of all rape crimes committed in their country. Perhaps they should tackle that problem instead of wasting their time interfering in this issue.

    1. Colin, time would be saved and justice more liable to be done if the Scottish Government incorporated the SSPCA into their investigation team. This would leave them more time .. and resources .. to investigate other crimes. It’s not the police who decide who to prosecute and who not too, Colin, it is the Procurator who makes those decisions.

    2. ” instead of wasting their time interfering in this issue. ”

      Interfering in a CRIME ? This ‘issue’ as you call it, is a criminal offence, and has been for over 100 years. Perhaps you should focus on the perpetrators of these crimes, and evidence would overwhelmingly appear to point toward gamekeepers, who are in turn, employed by, and instructed by, shooting estates.

  9. Robert. Just one point. I am as appalled as everyone else about this crime, but if I have read the report right it seems no further traps were actually found – just (sic) ‘ clear evidence that eight other traps had been deployed and baited with dead rabbits……… but had been removed very recently’. This is the craziness of the case. The culprit obviously had time to realise that his crime had been detected so had removed the firm evidence of that fact. All because of a ridiculous law which prevented the SSPCA from looking for more evidence until the police had found time to act. As George M says – it’s time for Roseanna Cunningham to act and show she means business. Action not meaningless words Roseanna. Forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t ‘Freedom to Roam’ stand in Scotland as it does in England? And if it doesn’t, wouldn’t it have been worth the SSPCA Inspector taking a chance and checking out the immediate location? And if the Invercauld Estate chose to prosecute him for trespass, wouldn’t that have been a marvellous media expose of what is really happening on these killing fields, and by whom? If he was found guilty and fined the pathetic sums the occasional keeper gets when found guilty of a wildlife crime, I for one would happily chip in with a donation to help him pay it – and I don’t think I would be alone?

  10. Like Tony, im a bit confused about the other 7 traps.
    Did anyone actually see them.
    Are there any photos, or was there just 7 patches of disturbed ground.
    Licensing is exactly what is required is estates are to behave like this.

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