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Keepers seek trap law change

No one has ever been convicted of damaging a trap in Scotland.

Members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) have written to MSPs requesting an amendment to the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill which, they believe, will finally send a proper deterrent to those intent on criminal damage to legal traps. A number of keepers have reported that traps set in the countryside are often destroyed, removed or rendered inoperable, which has knock-on effects for conservation.

Traps to control corvids and mustelids are approved by Holyrood, while spring traps are also used in publicly funded conservation programmes such as the Orkney Native Wildlife Project. Under current law, there is no specific offence for damaging a trap; nobody has ever been convicted of wrecking, stealing, removing or resetting a trap in Scotland.

The amendment would also help to protect those who lawfully set traps, with the new bill currently planning to link all traps operated in Scotland to a trained user through personalised ID tags.

Gamekeeper Les George of the SGA committee said: “If something happens, immediately they [the trained user] are in the frame, even if the offender is a third party. That is a really stressful situation for anyone, with very high stakes. It could potentially lead to a five-year jail sentence, so the law must also protect the trained user who requires the trap to carry out lawful and legitimate work. The bill presents a chance to rectify all of that.”