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Game farm owner found guilty of pole trap offence

Last modified: 17 February 2015

Illegal pole trap Westfield farm, Cropton, North Yorkshire, 11 June 2014

Pole traps were outlawed more than 100 years ago.

Image: The RSPB

The owner of Westfield Farm, Cropton, North Yorkshire, has been found guilty of permitting the use of a pole trap on the farm on 11 June 2014, and has been fined £4,000 at Scarborough Magistrates' Court today. 

Michael Wood, 68, was also ordered to pay £750 court costs and a £120 victim surcharge, giving a final total of £4,870, following the use of covert surveillance by RSPB Investigations Unit staff, which was accepted by the court. 

Two members of Mr Wood's staff had previously been cautioned by North Yorkshire Police for the use of five pole traps on the farm on 12 June 2014. 

In ruling, the Magistrates stated that it was 'inconceivable' that Mr Wood would not have seen one of the pole traps being used by his staff. Westfield Farm rears pheasants and partridges for the game shooting industry. 

RSPB Investigations Officer, Howard Jones, said: 'It is time that these cruel traps were consigned to the history books, but as long as they are being used we will continue to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. 

'We would like to thank North Yorkshire Police and the CPS for bringing this case to court. We would appeal to any members of the public out enjoying the countryside who see any of these traps to report them to the RSPB.'

Pole traps are a method of trapping birds that was outlawed over 100 years ago. They consist of a steel trap placed on top of a pole that crushes the legs of any wild bird that lands on them. They are sometimes used to trap protected birds of prey around pheasant pens on game shooting estates. 

This is the fourth conviction for pole trap offences in the last two years – all of the cases have involved estates rearing gamebirds for shooting.

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