Gamekeeper convicted of illegally trapping owl

3 April 2012

SSPCA press release: A Kirriemuir gamekeeper has been convicted of illegally trapping a tawny owl in a crow cage following a Scottish SPCA investigation. Robert Christie, 58, of Lindertis Estate, Airlie previously pled guilty to the offence and was admonished at Forfar Sheriff Court on Tuesday (3 April). Christie admitted recklessly taking the owl in a cage trap and using an illegal trap, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Section 1 (a) and Section 5, at Craigton Bank Woods on the Lindertis Estate. The bird suffered an injury to its beak and was extremely thin as the trap contained no food or water. SSPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “Cage traps are widely misused, either through poor management or ignorance. The trap which Christie was responsible for failed to meet the legal requirements of the Scottish Government’s General Licence, which states that traps must bear identifications tags and be immobilised when not in use. Christie pled ignorance to such conditions, which is shocking given he was an experienced gamekeeper. We welcome the fact that Christie now has a criminal conviction for this offence. Thankfully the tawny owl received immediate vet treatment before being rehabilitated at our Wildlife Rescue Centre and successfully released back into the wild.” Cage traps are large wire enclosures with a funnel which the bird flies down into and cannot escape. They are typically used to control carrion crows to protect livestock and fruit and vegetable crops. Once caught within these traps birds are offered the full protection of the Animal Health and Welfare Act (Scotland) 2006 when the licence conditions are not complied with. Like snaring, cage traps are indiscriminate and non-target species such as owls, buzzards and eagles are often caught and injured. The welfare of any bird caught within a cage trap is a concern for us as serious beak and wing injuries commonly occur, regularly resulting in the bird having to be put to sleep.

Additional press release from COPFS: