Fox in Larsen Trap
Shulbrede Priory, Sussex
When crows were found trapped in netting at a game-bird farm at Shulbrede Priory during the summer, we took up the case up with Sussex police as it looked as if the gamekeeper was using the netting as an illegal trap. When police investigated they found crows dead and dying in the netting and a Larsen trap nearby with a dead decoy bird as well.
The gamekeeper was interviewed and police recommended to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that they prosecute. However, CPS declined to act, even though the gamekeeper admitted:
- Birds are caught in the netting and are “dead when he gets to them and he leaves them there to discourage others.”
- The police saw that some birds could escape, indicating gaps in the netting.
- That “dead birds” were in the Larsen trap and the gamekeeper admits one is a decoy bird and he just left it after it “suddenly died”.
Snares on unanchored poles were also discovered surrounding the pens in an area known for its badgers. It took a lot of persuasion before they were removed; indeed until it was suggested to the owners that we would gather to sing “Jerusalem” outside the priory gates if the snares did not go. This was appropriate as Sir Hubert Parry who wrote the music to Jerusalem once used the priory as a retreat, and he is the great grandfather of Laura Ponsonby, one of the present owners of the priory. If he could return he would see how his great granddaughter was doing her bit for England’s green and pleasant land!
Police inform us that the gamekeeper has promised to close the gaps in the netting and we will be following this up. However, the beautiful and ancient Shulebrede Priory remains despoiled by a stinking game-bird farm which is a disgrace to the local environment.