Police confirm bird of prey was caught in illegally-set trap on van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk

Further to the news last weekend that the van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk was at the centre of a police investigation into alleged raptor persecution (here), and then the follow-up news yesterday that an illegally-set trap had been found in woodland and two men had been found there in possession of five pigeons and a police-style baton (here), there’s now a bit more detail to add to this story.

The BBC News website is reporting that ‘a bird of prey was illegally caught in a trap baited with a live pigeon’ (news article here).

The rest of the BBC News article is just a regurgitation of what has previously been reported.

There isn’t any detail about the raptor species that was trapped, nor its fate, nor any information about who was responsible for operating the trap.

I expect more information to be revealed in the very near future.

16 thoughts on “Police confirm bird of prey was caught in illegally-set trap on van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk”

  1. Have the Police actually confirmed a BoP was trapped, or is that creative extrapolation by the BBC?

  2. If this is going to stop then we need to push for these estates to be held criminally responsible for the crimes of their employee’s on the estate. I guarantee this would not happen if there was a chance that the people who own these estates could get a criminal record / do time in prison, if one of their employees committed a crime on their land. Of course the current government would never do this since, but when they eventually get kicked out, which is hopefully sooner rather than later, then we should be putting pressure on Labour, Lib dems, Greens, to put this policy in their manifesto’s. I will be writing to my MP to states this should be the case “Estates owners held criminally responsible for wildlife crimes their employees commit on their estates”

    1. Whilst I agree in principle. I am not sure vicarious liability will actually solve the raptor persecution problem as it will still have to be proved that an employee of the estate actually committed the crime, and the current woeful conviction rate for raptor persecution incidents suggests that very few of those responsible for these despicable crimes are ever brought to justice. As such very few, if any estate owners will ever be held responsible for what is taking place in their estates.
      What perhaps could prove a more effective measure would be a complete cessation of any public funding in the form of stewardship grants or the newly proposed ELMS for those estates which reared or released non native birds such as pheasant or red legged partridge, on the grounds that these birds are non native to UK and as such have a detrimental effect on native British wildlife, especially when the proposed changes to rural payments is supposed to be about the conservation of native species.
      I would in fact go even further and impose a land tax on any land used for shooting these non native species of game bird which would make such enterprises a commercial disaster for any estate or landowner who choose to persist in using land for this purpose. Hopefully this would encourage landowner’s to engage in activities other than shooting and to conduct proper conservation of UK wildlife if they want to continue to receive public funding.
      The difficulties come when grouse moors are considered, as grouse are a native bird, and there is some argument that the conservation work carried out on the moors to ensure the high grouse populations also helps other endangered birds such as curlew. Maybe the solution in this case would be to cease or limit the funding available to those moors where driven grouse shooting takes place, on the grounds that for DGS to be commercially viable then the grouse population has to be so artificially high that this can only be achieved at the expense of other native wildlife, and since the governments objective in the Environmental Bill is the recovery of nature and species abundance, then this is not compatible with the type of land management being conducted on many of the moors used for DGS. This might encourage some landowners to switch to more sustainable walk up shooting, or reduce the amount of moorland used for DGS, but still be able to access funding to help pay for conservation work on the moors not being used for shooting.
      But you are right in suggesting that there has to be a change in how the countryside is managed, so that those responsible for raptor persecution and the other despicable wildlife crimes which take place are brought to justice, and estate and landowners suitably penalised if they permit or encourage such activity to take place.

      1. Fascinating.

        Now you raise the issue it seems so obvious that promoting industrial scale habitation by non-native species and large scale mono-cultures should not be financially encouraged or classed as conservation.

        A friend of mine was telling me that the shooting industry is very excited at the prospect of obtaining further grants for their ‘conservation’ work but your suggestions would imo undermine that idea.

        Thanks for making my day!

        1. Maybe consider raising this issue with your MP?
          If the recovery of nature and UK wildlife is to be achieved and encouraged through the restructuring of rural payments and grants (which is what the government have promised).
          Then it makes no sense if those payments are available to those who manage the land in a way which hinders this process.
          I would hope these are issues which will be raised by MPs in parliament, so that there is proper scrutiny of the proposed legislation and just who and for what purpose any funding/stewardship grants/ELMS payments etc will be given.
          What mustn’t be allowed is for landowners to access public funding, if the funding is going to support activities such as shooting, if the land management associated with that shooting is detrimental in any way to nature recovery of native UK species.
          The evidence of the detrimental effect of non native game birds on UK wildlife is known, and is perhaps undisputable, as the government have already recognised this by limiting the release of such birds near sensitive habitats (EU protected sites) whilst DEFRA and Natural England conduct research to ascertain the impact of these birds on these sensitive areas.
          It is also recognised that nature recovery cannot be achieved by a patchwork of conservation areas surrounded by “no go areas” for wildlife.
          As such it makes a lot of sense to introduce penalties for those who by their destructive land management practices could undermine the conservation work work taking place elsewhere.
          These are issues the government has to recognise and actually do something about.
          MPs need to challenge the government on this to ensure funding doesn’t just go to the powerful lobby groups. The landowners and shooting industry being one such powerful lobby group.

          Ultimately I believe that what really drives human activity is economic growth, and to put it bluntly- money.
          It is the commercialisation and money generated from shooting which drives the raptor persecution- those who manage the land simply want to maximise the revenue they generate, and this means eradicating anything which interferes with game bird numbers, and the number of shoot days and bag sizes.
          Take away the money and the incentive to persecute raptors also diminishes.

  3. Is this the same estate where a harrier was witnessed being shot out of the sky, whils some royals were out shooting “nearby?”

  4. Almost a shame it didn’t happen in Scotland. With the previous incidents, you could build a strong case for vicarious liability. (The real shame is it happened at all)

    [Ed: Thanks Chris, but I think you may be confusing vicarious liability with a general licence restriction, which DOES provide for taking account of previous incidents. Vicarious liability does not. Besides, in this specific case it would be for a court to decide whether there was sufficient evidence to link ANY named individuals with this incident, vicariously or not]

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