Humans are famous for blaming animals for problems that have other contributing factors. Various organisations alongside the game shooting industry are promoting a self-serving unproven theory that the current decline in songbirds is not related to loss of habitat and modern farming methods but to predation by members of the crow family (corvids).
Yes it is sad that a small number of nests are raided by magpies and crows BUT it is the circle of life. no one bats an eyelid when a peregrine falcon kills a whole flock of pigeons. Why? Because the world has decided that these birds should be protected, I don't disagree, I just disagree with the fact that some wild birds are persecuted for portraying normal behaviour and labelled as vermin.
What is wrong with Larsen Traps?
Larsen Traps were designed by a Danish gamekeeper in the 1950s but are now banned in Denmark because of their cruelty. They were introduced to the UK by the Game Conservancy Trust (now named the GWCT) – a keen promoter of the game bird shooting industry. Larsen Traps are designed to eliminate a natural indigenous wild species in favour of large unnatural releases of artificially bred game birds, who are destined to be killed for sport.
The traps are made from wire and wood and have a compartment where a live decoy bird is kept to take advantage of the corvid species' territorial or inquisitive behaviour. Set in spring or early summer (the breeding season) when these behaviours are strongest, the investigating bird comes down and falls into a cage trap sprung by a collapsing perch and a swing door. When the gamekeeper returns, the caught birds are 'dispatched'. Decoy birds are often found dead through neglect or starvation, or can only watch on as other trapped birds are killed.
All traps are cruel and unnecessary. The Larsen Trap is particularly brutal because:
- A wild corvid 'bait bird' is routinely and legally incarcerated in a cage. This is not legal or routine for any other wild bird in the UK.
- Incarceration causes stress and trauma to the wild bait bird.
- The capture of adult birds in the breeding and nesting season causes the distress and death of corvid hatchlings and fledglings.
- The traps are set at ground level and expose the bait bird to the trauma of prowling predators.
- Gamekeepers abuse the Larsen Trap law and use illegal bait birds to catch raptors and even foxes.
- The traps are indiscriminate and catch other species
- The traps are set in England without responsibility. The identity of the trap setter is anonymous. In Scotland, a system of police issued codes identifies the owner of the trap.