Warning: This post contains distressing images.
A man has been sentenced for cruelly trapping a barn owl, leaving it with ‘horrific injuries’ and having to be put down.
Leslie Shooter, 57, set a number of spring loaded traps on his allotment plot at Sands Lane, Hunmanby.
However, he had not covered the traps as required by law.
On 8 April, a dog walker discovered a badly-injured adult barn owl caught in one of the traps.
Despite the bird being rescued and taken to a vet, the injuries to its legs were so severe that it had to be put down.
Barn owls are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, giving them legal protection.
Following an investigation by North Yorkshire Police, Shooter was charged with using an animal trap in circumstances for which it is not approved, causing a trap to be set to cause injury to a wild bird and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
After pleading guilty at Scarborough Magistrates Court on 29 June, Shooter was sentenced to a community order with 100 hours’ unpaid work requirement, as well as £199 of costs and surcharges.
Geoff Edmond, RSPCA inspectorate wildlife lead, said: “This has been a very distressing incident and I would like to thank the member of the public who took this barn owl to the vet even though sadly – due to its horrific injuries – it could not be saved.
“I believe this incident will have caused upset and concern for the community of Hunmanby, many of whom will have enjoyed watching this barn owl.
“By correct training in and knowledge of the use of this trap, this death should not have occurred. I would urge anyone using traps to ensure they are fully conversant with the legislation surrounding them.”
Mark Thomas, RSPB head of investigations, said the owl “was inexcusably trapped in a heinous manner. Our thanks go to North Yorkshire Police for bringing this case to justice and highlighting the issue.”
PC Graham Bilton, wildlife crime officer for North Yorkshire Police, said: “The incident in question, which resulted in the tragic death of the barn owl, could have been avoided had the defendant used the traps in a responsible and lawful way.”
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