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People going into the country, particularly at this time of the year, may come across cage traps which have been set out to catch pest bird species such as rook, crow, magpie, jackdaw, jay, starling, great black backed gull, lesser black backed gull, herring gull, feral pigeon, house sparrow, collared dove and

The traps which are allowed for under a General Licence issued by the Scottish Executive are used by a variety of land managers including gamekeepers, farmers and RSPB.

The traps, if used properly, are legal. The decoy bird must be provided with adequate food, water, shelter and a perch. The trap must also be visited on a daily basis and any non-target species released.

Traps which have been lawfully set are often found to have been interfered with in such a way as to make them ineffective. Interfering with the trap, either by opening the door, releasing the birds or simply destroying the trap is illegal and irresponsible.

If anyone has any reason to believe that a trap is not being used legally they should contact their local Police and not take the law into their own hands. Interfering with a trap will not stop the person using it or another illegally in the future. Intervention by the Police will ensure that all traps being used by the person are used legally.

Northern Constabulary contact is  Inspector John Grierson Force Wildlife Liaison Office, Inverness.