Gamekeeper caught using illegal trap

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A GAMEKEEPER has been convicted of twice using an illegal trap on a shooting estate in North Yorkshire.

Ryan Waite, a gamekeeper on the Swinton Estate, was fined £250 with an additional £105 costs and victim surcharge after pleading guilty to two charges of illegally setting a spring trap between May and June 2013.

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

Following a report from the League Against Cruel Sports, in June last year, RSPB Investigations visited Ox Close plantation on the Swinton Estate and discovered a spring trap 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 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 June 4, 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 The device was deemed outdated and barbaric in 1904, yet a century on we are still finding these illegal traps being set in the countryside.”