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A 26-year-old gamekeeper from the Swinton Estate in the Yorkshire Dales has been convicted of recklessness in setting a spring trap. Ryan Waite was covertly filmed while setting the trap on top of a 2m-high tree stump by RSPB officials, who argued that he meant to trap birds of prey. Waite maintained that grey squirrels were his target. Harrogate Magistrates’ Court found that, while the prosecution hadn’t proved that his intention was to harm birds of prey, he had been reckless as to whether or not they would be injured.

A spokesman for Swinton Estate said: “The Estate unequivocally condemns any illegal activity and it will take a firm disciplinary stand against any staff in breach of this policy.”

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) — of which Waite was not a member — condemned his actions, saying: “The NGO stands for gamekeeping within the law and does not condone the actions of those who break it.”