Pest and predator control in the north east Fife is being put at risk by an increase in the number of people tampering with legal traps.
Larsen traps in particular are being opened, the birds caught legally released along with the decoy bird.
Lindsay Kerr, Police Scotland’s wildlife and environmental crime co-ordinator for Fife, reminded the public: “Tampering with traps is a crime and will be recorded and investigated appropriately. Trapping in Scotland is a legal activity and when carried out responsibly and within the law is an effective tool in wildlife and conservation management.”
Pest and predator control is an integral part of conservation, land and wildlife management and is necessary to reduce predation and damage to crops to acceptable levels. It is the responsibility of all of those involved in pest and predator control to ensure their methods are legal, humane and carried out with sensitivity and respect for other countryside users.
Larsen traps are designed to catch birds alive and unharmed. They can be baited with food, or with a live decoy magpie or crow, provided all welfare regulations are met. It is essentially a cage with two or more compartments, one a closed compartment for confining a live decoy bird or bait and additional compartments with a spring or gravity activated trap door, to trap the other birds.
The use of this type of trap is permitted under the general licenses and allows an authorised person to control the birds listed on the general license.
General licences are issued by Scottish Natural Heritage and permit an authorised person to carry out activities that would otherwise be illegal, and cover certain types of activity relating to birds such as for the conservation of wild birds, preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease or serious damage to livestock and crops.