Suspected illegal trapping leads to death of bird of prey

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POLICE are investigating after a buzzard was found injured in a trap near to a West Yorkshire reservoir.

The buzzard had to be put down by a vet after being found in a spring-loaded metal trap near Winscar Reservoir, near to Dunford Bridge, which is close to the border with South Yorkshire.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and police are appealing for information.

The bird of prey was discovered by walkers on February 21 2014, who noticed it flapping around in a stream, unable to fly.

When they approached, they found the bird had a large metal spring trap attached to its leg. After releasing it, they took it to local veterinary practice Abbey Vets who had to put the bird to sleep because its injuries were severe.

Less than a year old, the buzzard had been raised at nearby Dove Stone, an RSPB/United Utilities Partnership site, where as a chick it had been fitted with an identification ring in June last year by members of the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group.

Spring traps can be used lawfully when set in tunnels to catch stoats and weasels. The exact location of the trap on this occasion is not known.

The RSPB is aware of a number of incidents in which birds of prey have been deliberately targeted by the placing of spring traps on poles or stumps. This practice has been illegal since 1904 and carries a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine and or six months imprisonment.

Mark Thomas, RSPB senior investigations officer, said: “If misused spring traps are the bird equivalent of landmines, totally indiscriminate and lethal.”

Detective Constable Bryan Butterworth, wildlife crime officer for West Yorkshire Police said: “Spring traps, when used correctly are a legal and effective method of pest control. When used inappropriately and illegally they trap indiscriminately, and as in this case, can cause unnecessary injury and suffering. Incidents of illegally set traps will be investigated by the police and the offenders brought to justice.”