The Larsen trap is a cage bird trap made of wire and either a wooden for metal framed cage where one live bird (decoy bird, or call bird), usually a crow or magpie, is placed to encourage another bird, not always of similar species, to come down to it. This visiting bird, not knowing its fate, falls through a false floor into a compartment, where it awaits its fate with the gamekeeper.
Larsen Traps were designed by a Danish gamekeeper (Larsen) in the 1950s, but are now banned in that country because the traps are viewed as inhumane for trapping magpies and crows.
Larsen traps have been used in the UK since 1988, following their introduction by the Game Conservancy Trust. Because they use a captive wild bird (technically contrary to the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act) they have to be used under the terms of a “general licence”. Under the terms of the general licence issued by Natural England, only magpies, crows, jays, jackdaws and rooks can be trapped. The live traps use a “decoy” bird, which is kept in one compartment, and when another bird lands on top, it falls through a one-way gate. Legally they must have a perch, shelter, food and water.
The wild “decoy bird,” its most vital instincts frustrated and abused by confinement, suffers a most terrible fate. Close to the ground it is terrorised by predators, and watches as its fellow birds are brutally killed in front of it. A number end up being found dead through neglect.
It is also clear that the trapping is going on all through the summer months and that untold thousands of magpie chicks have starved to death in their nests due to their parents birds being trapped. Mike Swan of the Game Conservancy has told the media that the birds are trapped before their nesting season but in Shooting Times, Mr Swan told a different story – saying that he traps magpies for ‘about six weeks in late April and May.’ We have evidence of keepers still trapping magpies in July.
Larsen Trap Cruelty
Water, food, a perch and shelter are required by law for birds in Larsen traps, but are often missing. Call the police when you find an offence.
Pigeons are sometimes used to attract birds of prey. It is illegal to use a pigeon – if you find one, contact the RSPB immediately.
We have witnessed crows left to die without food and water.
We have witnessed trapped magpies so frightened that they lay their eggs immediately (pictured left). We have witnessed birds with broken beaks and cut heads where they have tried to escape. We have witnessed brutality where the gamekeeper has cut wing features to stop the decoy bird from escaping.
Trapping magpies and crows in live bird traps causes untold stress to the unfortunate birds. This video says it all:
Terror for the captive birds!
Imagine the terror that these birds go through. Captive and awaiting a fate of death. Imagine the terror at night, of being at floor level in a cage with night predators sniffing around you.
Where are Larsen traps found?
Larsen traps are normally placed near a pheasant pen, or at the edge of a woodland where the pheasant pen is nearby. You could also find them in the corner of a grain field. You will see a 4×4 vehicle track where the gamekeeper inspects the Larsen trap from time to time.
Who uses Larsen Traps and Why?
The Larsen trap was invented by a gamekeeper to trap crows, magpies, etc., that might predate on gamebirds, and gamekeepers are their main user. They are mainly used in spring and early summer, when birds have their young. On rare occasions they can be found in private gardens where some people mistakenly believe trapping magpies will prevent predation on garden birds’ eggs and young. They fail to realise that dense cover (ivy, thorny bushes, etc.) are the answer to magpie predation in gardens.
How Can We Ban These Traps of Death?
- Write to your local paper and tell people how disgusting and cruel these Larsen traps are.
- Get out there and look for the Larsen traps.
- Video, photograph and help expose the cruelty of trapping crows and magpies.
- Don’t forget that they will be well away from footpaths and bridleways. They will usually be near pheasant pens and in woodlands.
- Download our Larsen trap petition and collect signatures.