A gamekeeper illegally used a cage trap baited with a live pigeon to catch birds of prey, magistrates have found.
A gamekeeper working on National Trust land has been found guilty of illegally trapping birds of prey in the Peak District.
Glenn Brown, 39, of Upper Derwent Valley, was filmed using a cage with a live pigeon to catch a sparrowhawk.
Chesterfield Magistrate’s Court heard Brown, of Old Henry’s Schoolhouse in Upper Derwent Valley, trapped the birds to protect grouse where he worked.
He was ordered to perform 100 hours community service with £10,000 costs.
The traps that he used were designed to catch crows, rooks and jackdaws but were illegal for trapping birds of prey, the court heard.
The gamekeeper operated traps on land in the Upper Derwent Valley owned by the National Trust but leased by another party between 14 April and 25 May 2010, the court heard.
The RSPB installed video cameras at the trap site in Howden Moor and captured images that were used during the prosecution.
Brown was found guilty of seven offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Animal Welfare Act 2010, including using a trap for the purpose of killing or taking wild birds.
RSPB investigator Mark Thomas said: “We welcome this conviction as it sends a clear message that bird of prey persecution remains a serious and orchestrated crime.
“Bird of prey persecution is a UK wildlife crime priority, and it is vital that government and the police lead a renewed and concerted effort to afford birds of prey the protection they are due.”
Brown was originally arrested by Derbyshire Police in May 2010, following a covert surveillance operation by an RSPB investigations team.
They filmed the gamekeeper using a cage trap baited with a live domestic pigeon.
An RSPB spokesman said that although cage traps were legal in certain circumstances for predator control, it was unlawful to use a pigeon as bait and to capture birds of prey.