Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

View across the head of a moorland dale with a ladder trap in the foreground containing to live crows.

Distress in Scugdale — the consequences of ladder traps

View of a ladder trap containing to live crows.As I was wandering around the head of Scugdale, something caught my attention: a ladder trap filled with birds. Two crows were stuck inside, looking distressed, and my heart sank. Although they had water, shelter, and plenty of food (dead rabbits), they were trapped and unable to escape. Upon closer inspection, I realised that the trap was further baited with a couple of dozen eggs on the roof and the door tied with tywraps, clearly it was intended to catch corvids like crows and magpies.

But ladder traps aren’t selective, and they can easily ensnare other birds like buzzards and other raptors. The birds enter through the ladder at the bottom of the ‘V’ in the roof, but they can’t get out due to the rungs, causing them physical and mental anguish. They’re exposed to the elements, unable to hunt or care for their young, and separated from their mates until the gamekeeper finally arrives to kill them.

View of a ladder trap containing to live crows.

I was left wondering if this was even legal. Apparently, under licence by DFERA, gamekeepers are allowed to use traps like this to catch Carrion Crows for “Conserving wild birds of conservation concern”1for, Department. 2021. ‘GL40: General Licence to Kill or Take Certain Species of Wild Birds to Conserve Wild Birds, Flora or Fauna of Conservation Concern’, GOV.UK (GOV.UK) <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-kill-or-take-for-conservation-purposes-gl40/gl40-general-licence-to-kill-or-take-certain-species-of-wild-birds-to-conserve-endangered-wild-birds-or-flora-and-fauna> [accessed 9 May 2023]. Wild birds are those defined as being on the red and amber lists published by the British Trust for Ornithology. However, according to Wild Justice, an advocacy organisation for wildlife, the Red Grouse (a game bird) is on the amber list2MarkAvery. 2021. ‘Gamekeeping Gets a Change of Job Description – Wild Justice’, Wild Justice <https://wildjustice.org.uk/general-licences/gamekeeping-gets-a-change-of-job-description/> [accessed 9 May 2023], although I couldn’t find any confirmation of this on the BTO listing. Nevertheless, I shall report what I had seen, hoping that someone would take action to prevent further harm to innocent birds.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *