Gamekeeper set illegal trap

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A gamekeeper at a shooting estate has been convicted of using a ‘barbaric’ illegal trap - after he was caught on spy camera.

Ryan Waite, employed as a gamekeeper on the Swinton Estate, admitted setting a spring trap - banned since 1904 - after he was caught in a covert investigation by the RSPB.

He was sentenced at Harrogate Magistrates Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to two charges of illegally setting a spring trap between May and June 2013.

“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,” said Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer. “The device was deemed outdated and barbaric in 1904, yet a century on we are still finding these illegal traps being set in the countryside.”

The RSPB had become involved after a tip-off to say a spring trap had been found on Ox Close plantation on the estate.

Such traps, set on top of a two-metre high tree stump, are commonly known as pole traps and usually target birds of prey.

Two days after investigators disabled the trap and set up covert surveillance, Waite was filmed re-setting the trap on top of the stump.

Waite, who had pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing in December last year, had denied that the trap was intended for birds of prey, as alleged by the prosecution, claiming rather that it was for catching squirrels.

The court ruled on Thursday that his conduct had been reckless. He was fined £250 with an additional £105 costs and victim surcharge.

Mr Jones, after the hearing,' said: “We welcome today’s result as it shows that such barbaric practices will not be tolerated in today’s society.”