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North Yorkshire gamekeeper convicted of wildlife crime

Last modified: 13 February 2014

Pole trap Ox Close plantation Swinton Estate

The spring trap filmed on Ox Close plantation on the Swinton Estate.

Image: The RSPB

A gamekeeper has been convicted of using an illegal trap on a shooting estate on two occasions.

At Harrogate Magistrate’s Court on 13 February, Ryan Waite, employed as a gamekeeper on the Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire was sentenced on two charges of illegally setting a spring trap between May and June 2013.

Waite had pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing on December 10, 2013.

However, he 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 today ruled that his conduct had been reckless.

He was fined £250 with an additional £105 costs and victim surcharge.  

Following an initial report from the League Against Cruel Sports, on the 2nd June, RSPB Investigations visited Ox Close plantation on the Swinton Estate, North Yorkshire, and discovered a spring trap that had been placed on top of a two-metre high tree stump. These are commonly known as pole traps and have been banned since 1904.

Birds of prey are usually the target of such devices as they use the elevated position as a vantage point and the traps are strategically placed where they will hunt.

RSPB Investigations disabled the trap and then set up covert surveillance of the site to monitor who was responsible and two days later, on 4th June, Waite was filmed re-setting the trap on top of the stump. 

As a result of this footage, North Yorkshire Police executed a search warrant, assisted by the RSPB. Although the spring trap had been removed from the pole trap site, it was later found and seized at Waite’s property.  Waite was also caught on camera removing the trap.

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “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. The device was deemed outdated and barbaric in 1904, yet a century on we are still finding these illegal traps being set in the countryside.  Sentencing needs to get tougher to ensure people are deterred from operating such devices in the future.

“We welcome today’s result as it shows that such barbaric practices will not be tolerated in today’s society.”   


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