As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Gamekeeper trapped rare birds of prey using illegal cages

A game keeper set out to protect his pheasants by trapping some of Britain's rarest birds of prey using illegal cages baited with live pigeons, a court heard yesterday.

Shaun Allanson, 37, subsidised his income from working on the Blansby Park near Pickering, North Yorkshire, by breeding and selling game birds to shooting parties.

Goshawks, so rare they were once declared extinct, were a known predator on the estate but protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Natural England officer Justine Clark was carrying out a survey at Blansby Park when she stumbled across one of Allanson's illegal cages, the court heard.

It was inside a pheasant pen on the estate which was surrounded by a six foot high electric fence, Scarborough Magistrates were told. She found a wire cage "letter box trap" - with a slot just big enough for a bird to get in but not out again.

"Inside was a buzzard eating what appeared to be a freshly killed pigeon," said Sarah Tyrer, prosecuting for the CPS. "Her immediate thought was that this was an illegal trap. Looking inside she could see food, water, and a perch.

"She released the buzzard and reported the matter to police."

In follow up visits by police, a pigeon skull was found in the bottom of the cage, and a second small trap was discovered hidden in the pen 100ft from the bigger one.

The officer also arranged logs in front of the gate to the pen and when he returned they had been rearranged, showing someone had been inside again.

The court heard such cages were not illegal but were only supposed to be used for catching crows at certain times and not baited with live pigeons.

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