Category: News


We have had a growing number of emails by concerned residents about
Larsen Traps in private gardens. Natural England has a “General Licence”
that you do not need to apply for but must comply with their conditions
relating to conserving flora and fauna G106. But some gardeners have
claimed to have chickens and are trying to justify their use by the Licence to
kill or take certain wild birds to prevent serious damage or disease

With GL04 the claim is usually crows are taking the chickens’ grain, so police are simply telling
people to cover up the grain and the Larsen gets removed. With G106 police generally accept:
1) This is not a nature reserve, but a small garden, and so this type of
trap will actually prevent nesting birds in this garden and those
immediately surrounding it and so cannot be set for the purpose of
conserving fauna at this location.
2) Because the owner does not own the surrounding land, he cannot show
proofing and scaring has been tried and failed as required by the licence.
3) This trap is causing much distress to immediate neighbours as it is
attracting corvids to the neighbour

ing gardens when they never saw them

before and they are having to frighten them away.

However, in May 2018 we had a Larsen trap in a small garden in East Sheen London, and Sgt Dorman
would not accept the trap was set contrary to the General Licence.
We ask Natural England for Clarity on General licence and gardens
On 27 th May 2018 we contacted Natural England with a representation that the General

Licence specifically prohibits Larsen traps from gardens under G106. After over a month
and several follow up emails we were told it would be passed to DEFRA to reply as it related
to policy. As we did not get a reply for over a month we have contacted our MP at the end
of July to get a response from the Environment Minister.
Please send Letters to the Environment Minister if you have any experience of Larsen Traps in gardens and ask for the General Licence
to specifically outlaw their use in gardens
 : Secretary of State for the
Environment Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon Michael Gove
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Celeb golf club used by Sean Connery and Tim Henman under investigation over ‘cruel’ bird traps to catch crows

A leading golf club is being probed by police over claims bird traps were used cruelly to catch crows.

Sunningdale, with members including Sean Connery and Tim Henman, is one of the world’s top courses.

The 118-year-old club in Berkshire claimed it had the traps laid to protect other birds and reptiles from crows, although the birds had also been stealing golf balls they mistook for other birds’ eggs that they feed on.

Naturalists found two crows in “Larsen” traps on adjoining land.

Simon Cowell, of the Wildlife Aid Foundation, said: “One had died, the other came to us in a terrible condition.
“There are humane ways to deal with ­wildlife issues. Animals should not have to suffer and there is a responsibility on people who manage landscapes to do so with care.”

The RSPCA passed the complaint to Surrey Police, which is investigating whether the traps were used correctly.
Larsen traps, metal cages with two or more compartments, are often used to catch magpies and can be used under licence as long as conditions are met.

A perch must be provided along with food, water and shelter. Traps must be checked daily.

Sunningdale says the traps were set by a contractor and maintains that they were used in accordance with guidelines.

In 2015, crows at Headingley Golf Club in Leeds stole 100 balls

RSPB and Corvid Trapping

 A few years ago, we informed the RSPB director that we were setting up the Real Society for the Protection of Birds, aimed at exposing the RSPB’s use of Larsen traps, support of game shooting and indifference to farmed birds.  We had to get solicitors involved after being accused of “passing off”!

Sadly the RSPB which had its roots as the “Fur and Feather” group in Didsbury, Manchester in 1889 was once a protectionist group, but when it received its Royal Charter in 1904 it had to promise not to campaign against shooting sports.  Sadly, it only really promotes the ticking off of bird species, and has promoted the unnecessary killing of the non native Ruddy Duck simply because it bred with the White Headed duck in Spain and might have lead to the elimination of another native European species for birders to tick off.

One of our ACT supporters received this response from the RSPB on Larsen traps:

Whilst the RSPB is not generally opposed to their use by others as long as the basic welfare standards are up kept we would always oppose any welfare related issues from not keeping to be basic welfare standards required by law. This is an issue for the police on 101 and the local wildlife crime officer as well as the licensing authority in whichever country in the UK.

We on our own reserves would only resort to using them for site specific control to protect species of high conservation concern and do not generally view that their numbers impact on songbird numbers. Healthy numbers of songbirds would support healthy numbers of corvids with any issues with songbird numbers mostly coming from reduction in habitat and food quantity and quality. This means that if the quality of these goes down and numbers of the songbirds go down then eventually so will numbers of corvids and large predators. In a healthy system there is always fluctuation with numbers regulating themselves over time.

We would therefore though being unopposed to their general use would advised land owners to use other techniques to deter corvids from cropping areas et cetera that did not use this method. This would therefore fit with our desire for the coexistence of humans with other animals whilst accounting for other needs such as crop protection allowing both the species and other needs to coexist side by side.

Emily G. Williams, Supporter Adviser.  Please Send letters to: RSPB UK Headquarters The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL. Tel 01767 693680

Natural England’s partnership with BASC

Natural England’s partnership with BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation)

In April 2015 Natural England struck up a formal partnership deal with the BASC on the grounds of “common interest”.

Formal documents have been signed with BASC, and so it is not surprising that all submissions from  (ACT) in relation to reform of the General Licence come to nothing.

Natural England oversees the General Licence that on paper provides some protection to birds in corvid traps: such as fixed inspection times, wholesome food, water, etc.   Following our submissions a few years ago, recommendations were made by a Natural England officer for some of our suggested reforms.  However, they were never implemented and now never will be while BASC are at the driving wheel!

Our research:

Appointed in 2014 the Natural England Chairman is Andrew Sells and sits on the DEFRA board.  He donated £137,500 to the Tory pary, and was given the job by Environment Minister, Owen Patterson: the man behind the badger cull.  Mr Sells private business interests include Venture Capital projects and house building (Linden Homes).  He is also treasurer to the “Policy Exchange” which thought up the idea of biodiversity offsetting:  here you get away with destroying wildlife habitat by planting a few trees somewhere else.

Mr Sells also launched the Wildlife Habitat Trust Stamp at the 2015 Game Fair.  This is designed to extract money from the general public for what is promoted at “conservation”. However, this Trust was founded by BASC in 1986 for the sole purpose of buying land (mainly coastal marsh) for wildfowling (duck and geese shooting) purposes.

So you can see why PPS9 (Planning policy Statement 9) designed to protect habitat is effectively ignored, and why all reforms on trapping legislation and wildlife protection are now stalled.

Peer’s gamekeeper fined for killing three kestrels

A gamekeeper on one of England’s most celebrated country estates was ordered to pay fines and costs of almost £1,000 yesterday after admitting shooting and poisoning birds of prey.

A gamekeeper on one of England’s most celebrated country estates was ordered to pay fines and costs of almost £1,000 yesterday after admitting shooting and poisoning birds of prey.

Martin Joyce, a keeper on the Earl of Leicester’s estate at Holkham, Norfolk, shot two kestrels in a fit of rage when he saw them attacking young partridges. He poisoned another kestrel, magistrates at Fakenham were told.

The 3,000-acre estate at Wells-next-the-Sea was a model of agricultural improvement in the 19th century under the Earl’s ancestor, Thomas Coke.Yesterday the Earl’s heir, the present Viscount Coke, disowned Joyce’s actions, although he said the keeper would not be sacked.

Joyce was prosecuted after a walker found the poisoned kestrel dead next to a chick that had been laced with the pesticide Carbofuran. Police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds launched an investigation and found the two dead kestrels in a bucket in Joyce’s vehicle, and a “poisoner’s kit” of chemicals, needles, syringes and bowls in outbuildings at his cottage. Joyce, 36, married with two children, was fined a total of £850 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

After the case Viscount Coke said: “We were appalled by Martin Joyce’s actions when we found out what he had done. It was illegal, against the law of the land, and against the estate’s own rules. They were certainly actions the estate did not condone. This incident has tarnished the very good reputation we have as a model of good conservation practices.

“But Mr Joyce will be keeping his job. He has been punished with a heavy fine and we don’t see it is necessary to punish him a second time. He hadn’t put a foot wrong for four years and he is totally humbled by this experience.”

Viscount Coke, a director of the estate, also appeared in the dock yesterday with his estate manager and head keeper, all facing charges relating to permitting the improper use and storage of poisons. They pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned until 2 May.

Kestrels are Britain’s commonest birds of prey – there are an estimated 50,000 pairs – but they are strictly protected.

Guy Shorrock, an RSPB investigations officer, said the illegal poisoning of birds of prey was still too common on many large estates. “We hope this case sends out a clear message to all landowners and gamekeepers, and by next year there will be tough new laws in place that will make offences like this punishable by imprisonment rather than a maximum fine of £5,000,” he said.