Further to yesterday’s blog about a shot peregrine being found dead on a grouse moor in the notorious raptor persecution hotspot of Strathbraan (see here), further news has just emerged of another offence being committed on the same shooting estate.
Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland has just tweeted the following:
‘The dead peregrine was found during a police/SSPCA follow-up to incidents of cage trap abuse on the same estate – eg. this LE Owl had been illegally held in a trap, in pouring rain, for >24hrs. IMO there is no legitimate reason for a grouse moor be using crow traps in October…‘
Here is a photo of the illegally-trapped Long-eared owl:
Crow cage traps are not illegal to use under the General Licences, as long as certain conditions are met. Birds of prey can often enter these traps and are then unable to escape. Catching a raptor is not an offence in itself. However, the trap operator has a legal obligation to check the trap at least once every 24 hours and if a trapped raptor (or any other non-target species) is found and it is uninjured, the trap operator MUST release it back to the wild immediately. If the trapped raptor is held for longer than 24 hours then the trap operator has committed an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
To not release this long-eared owl within 24 hours of capture is a clear offence and there may also be other welfare offences to consider under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 if the owl did not have adequate food, water and shelter.
Ian also raises the question of the legitimacy of operating a crow cage trap in October. He’s absolutely right to question this. Crow cage traps can be used under the General Licences in Scotland for three purposes:
- GL 01/2021: To kill or take certain birds for the conservation of wild birds.
- GL 02/2021: To kill or take certain birds for the prevention of serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit.
- GL 03/2021: To kill or take certain birds for the preservation of public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease
For what legitimate purpose was this crow cage trap being deployed on a Strathbraan grouse moor in October??
I’m very curious about why a charge has not been brought against the trap operator in this case. All crow cage traps now have to be registered with NatureScot by the trap operator and a sign affixed to the trap to show the trap operator’s registration number. Police Scotland can use this number to identify the trap operator and pursue a prosecution if an offence has been committed.
I’m even more curious to know why NatureScot has not imposed a General Licence restriction on this estate. The crow cage trap offence was committed in October 2020. The shot peregrine was discovered in November 2020. The Scottish SPCA is pursuing a case for alleged snaring offences also discovered in November 2020.
It’s now September 2021.
Just what is going on here? There are serious questions to be asked of Police Scotland and NatureScot.
Why no publicity?
Why no prosecution?
Why no General Licence restriction?