Man trapped and starved magpies to death in garden

SSPCA investigators found a dead magpie after receiving a call from a resident in Penicuik.

Man trapped and starved magpies to death in garden Scottish SPCA

A man who illegally trapped and failed to provide birds with food, water and shelter has been issued a five-year ban from owning and keeping animals.

Alexander Hamilton, 64, of Windsor Drive in Penicuik pled guilty to trapping magpies in illegal traps in his garden causing them distress.

In addition to the five-year ban, he was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday, March 5.

The Scottish SPCA said the birds were found to have “no suitable shelter, food or water” when teams responded to a call from a resident in July 2022.

Mark Rafferty, SSPCA special investigations unit chief inspector said: “On July 29, 2022 our animal helpline received a call from a resident in Windsor Drive, Penicuik reporting two magpies caught in cages in the back garden of a neighbour.

“We attended that same day but found no one at home.  On looking over the fence into the back garden, we observed a Larsen mate trap and two other cages. The two cages had no suitable shelter, food or water and no visible tag attached to them.

“Crow cage traps and Larsen traps are bird traps used to catch various territorial members of the crow family most commonly used by gamekeepers or sheep farmers.

“We attended later that day at the address and the occupier, Hamilton, let us into his garden. We found a dead magpie lying on the paving slabs in the back garden, just inside the gate.

“In the bottom corner of the garden, screened off from the rest of the garden by a large unsecured fencing panel, was an area where there were three traps.

“The first trap was a Larsen mate trap containing one Magpie. The bird was in a distressed state due to being confined within the trap and was in poor condition. This trap was specifically designed for the purpose of catching targeted species. 

“Trap operators are responsible for traps carrying their Trap Registration Number and all traps used must only display a single tag or sign showing one NatureScot Trap Registration Number. These conditions were not being adhered to rendering this trap illegal.

“The second trap contained one magpie and there was also a cage containing a magpie in poor body condition.

“The magpie within this cage was distressed and managed to squeeze through the mesh on the floor of the cage and enter a space underneath the adjacent shed. The bird could be heard scraping and pecking at the wooden floor of the shed and was clearly distressed. 

“The birds were released from the cages and the traps and were released back into the wild.

“We are pleased with the five-year ban at the sentencing result. All animals should be protected from suffering and this includes magpies.

“Our team treat these cases seriously and it is good to see that the courts share this view.

“We will continue to investigate this type of offending, to ensure people like Hamilton are caught and stopped from committing further cruel acts.

“I would like to thank the Procurator Fiscal Karon Rollo and the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit.”

If members of the public are concerned about an animal, the SSPCA can be contacted on a confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

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