A gamekeeper illegally used a cage trap baited with a live pigeon to catch birds of prey in Derbyshire, a court has heard.
Glenn Brown, 39, is alleged to have operated the trap during his employment on land owned by the National Trust in the Upper Derwent Valley on various dates between April 14 and May 25 last year.
At Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court prosecutor Rod Chapman told the court the cage trap, sometimes known as a corvid cage trap or a multi-catch ladder trap, was found in Howden Moor by John McMahon, an RSPB employee, on April 15 last year.
On his first sighting of that trap, which is designed for catching members of the corvid family such as crows, rooks and jackdaws, it contained a crow and appeared to be lawful, Mr Chapman said.
He told the court that some people are allowed to catch and kill certain species of wild birds if they are exempted by a general licence from Natural England, and they are usually owners or occupiers of the land.
Mr Chapman added: “A gamekeeper is not an authorised person unless the owner or occupier of the land has given him authority to run the trap.”
Brown, of Old Henry’s School House, Derwent Valley, denies seven charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Animal Welfare Act 2010.
Mr Chapman told the court that after Mr McMahon’s first sighting of the trap he went back two more times and on the latter visit, on April 27, it contained both the carrion crow and a pheasant, which was not one of the target species.
During a later visit on May 18, a white pigeon – a feral pigeon – was found alone in the trap which, again, was not a suitable decoy bird as far as the general licence was concerned, he said. Mr Chapman added that the RSPB installed covert battery operated video cameras at the trap site and captured a man on tape, who the Crown says is the defendant, on May 20.
After Mr Chapman finished opening the case, no further evidence was heard in court as District Judge Caroline Goulborn and court officials left for the afternoon to visit the trap site.