Monday, September 7, 2015

Up To No Good

I offer no apologies for returning once again to the subject of the illegal trapping of Goldfinches. It is a subject highlighted on this blog a number of times. 


From The York Press - Tuesday 21 July 2015 

"A York man whose hobby was snaring wild song birds was caught setting traps by the roadside while going to Seamer Horse Fair, a court heard. Alan Smith, 59, was staying on a site in Gate Helmsley, en route to the fair, when he placed a cage in a nearby hedge. The trap, containing a Goldfinch and food, was designed to lure a second Goldfinch onto a perch, after which the cage door would slam shut. 

Prosecutor Katy Varlow said the bird - which Smith said he had got from a man in a pub in Leeds - was "extremely agitated". She added: "It would not go on the perch. It was banging against the side of the trap. It was clearly not used to being in captivity." 

Wildlife officer PC Graham Bilton, based at Eastfield, near Scarborough, removed the cage but Smith and his fellow travellers were off the site, Scarborough magistrates heard on Monday. However, the officer caught up with the same group of caravans when they pitched camp for a second time a few days later at Scagglethorpe, by the A64. Again, a cage had been laid out to snare a second Goldfinch, and this time a Goldfinch already caught in the wild was inside as a decoy, Ms Varlow continued, adding: "Small finches are extremely popular to be targeted for illegal trapping. 

"They're protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but very popular with the travelling community due to their melodic song and colourful attractive plumage." Smith, of The Clifton Caravan Site in Water Lane, York, was given a six month community order. He was also fined £100 with £85 costs and ordered to pay a £60 surcharge and £150 court charge. Presiding magistrate Pam Macfie said: "This is a most unusual case." 

I think not Pam. 

Smith admitted eight offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of taking and possessing wild birds, using a trap and using the birds as decoys earlier this month. Ian Brickman, mitigating, said: "He has no particular use for the birds. It's just a hobby. "There was no suggestion the cage was in itself cruel." 

PC Bilton said after the hearing: “It is important that those responsible for committing wildlife crimes are brought to justice. This type of crime can have a dramatic effect on local fauna and flora, yet often go unreported and are difficult to investigate.” 

RSPCA Inspector Geoff Edmond said the case highlighted the illegal trapping of song birds - which was just as much a problem as the targeting of birds of prey. He said: "It highlights our concern that birds are still being illegally taken from the wild when people should be able to enjoy seeing them in the countryside." 



Bird ringers catch and release Goldfinches and many other species so as to generate information on the survival, productivity and movements of birds, helping us to understand why populations are changing.

Periodically I check my blog stats to see the “who, why, where and when” of readers. It’s a way of finding out what people like to read about and for which species readers may have a special interest. Sometimes there has been interest shown in in Goldfinches.

The screen grab below from my stat provider is just the latest in a number of Internet searches to find ways of illegally trapping Goldfinches. The searcher enters their chosen words, in this case AOL, and the search engine provides a list of subjects which includes all manner of references to Goldfinches, including the blogs of bird watchers and bird ringers which will often innocently include the word ”Goldfinch”. 

Up To No Good

So, Internet searcher of IP Address 178-149-131-72 via Talktalk from Reading, Berkshire on 5th September 2015, we are on to you. Your motives in using search request "how can i catch a goldfinch" have criminal intent. 

The trapping, possession and sale of wild finches is an area of criminal activity which remains a widespread problem in the UK especially among travellers and immigrants from certain countries. Possession or control of a wild bird is an offence of strict liability. Anybody possessing wild birds is obliged to show that their possession is lawful. 

There is a ready market in the UK for trapped wild finches, and many species fetch £50 or more when sold. It has also been shown that some of the finches trapped in the UK are exported to other European countries such as Malta. 


Blog readers, bird watchers, bird ringers and bird lovers, please remain aware and vigilant that this nasty activity may be taking place close to you. If you see or hear anything which you think is suspicious contact the RSPCA or the Police immediately.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Vandana Sharma said...

This Earth belongs to every creature, we humans cannot solely claim it as our own and it is sad to know that some people wont share this land with other creatures. A free bird is a source of joy to everyone, how can a person with a heart captivate them.

Linda said...

Phil, I sure hope not! (that this activity is happening in my area in Montreal, Quebec, Canada!) This is cruel and disgusting! However, I must mention that there was a cat mutilator and killer in Montreal whom the police were looking for and I hope was caught! I love all animals, and even though I am not overly fond of snakes, I don't like to see any creature harmed. Your photos are lovely.

David Gascoigne said...

What a bunch of low lives. It's hard to believe that this still goes on in 2015. The fines are totally inadequate, however, and should be doubled or increased beyond that even. Bravo for alerting everyone to this despicable practice. Perhaps people will be a little more aware of the issue and help the authorities in apprehending the jerks who all too often get away with it. And for you citizens who are willing to purchase and imprison these wild creatures - shame on you. You are equally culpable, perhaps more so.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, thank you for making more people aware of the wild birds being illegally trapped. They should remain wild and free. Stores should not be allowed to sell wild birds in the first place. Great post!

Margaret Adamson said...

Thanks for is well written article for bloggers and hopefully others to read. I never knew it was such a problem in the Uk, I wonder what it is like in N. I.?

Birdringal-andalus said...

Dear Phil, I feel like you envy the British protect these birds, the law of their country is strong.
Although there are cases of crimes by poachers, you can feel fortunate that I think are very rare cases.
Here in southern Spain over half a million of Goldfinches are captured by groups of people who federated our government allows each of them a number of catches. This is coupled with a legion of poachers using live, electronics and glue to trap them in small puddles left in the summer in this arid land claims.
Thousands of birds also use these drinkers, they are caught between the insectivores. Hundreds of individuals are concentrated in a small space and are caught for sale and for consumption in small tubs with plucked birds.
I find it ironic that in northern Europe populations to take care of later, massacre here in the South.
Only one thing, one person can capture more than 400 daily bird feeders in the winter, most are birds that migrate from his country and Central Europe, I feel envy because people here do not have their culture.
That is the only solution, educate, but after so long, I think that culture will never come to my country, which embarrasses me.
Regards, Fernando

Phil Slade said...

Ola mi amigo Fernando.

You are correct that in the UK we are fortunate in comparison to some southern European countries. The culture which supports such persecution is both old and ingrained. Thanks to brave people like yourself who speak out and try to educate others, we can but hope that such practices will in time be seen as a relic of bad times.

You must not be embarrassed by some things which fellow countrymen do while you work so hard in favour of birds and wildlife. A hug my friend. Hope to meet up with you soon.

Russell Jenkins said...

I am usually careful of naming places, especially if something is rare and sort after. In Australia I think there are still cavemen into egg collecting. Good report, Phil...I might change some info I recently put on my blog.

EG CameraGirl said...

How awful that some people are capturing wild birds! Hmmm. It boggles the mind!

Silver Parrot said...

Honestly, our species depresses me sometimes. Thanks for spotlighting this terrible practice and bringing attention to it.

Errol Newman said...

Phil, Fernando - we can't publicize this 'carnage' enough. Hopefully, one day, the 'slaughter' will decrease to such an extent that it is no longer threatening wild bird populations in Europe (and elsewhere).


Oh my gosh. Y'know when at pet stores I've oftentimes wondered just where they get their finches. have me ready to protest the pet stores!!! I'm nearly 100% positive now they're poached illegally after reading you much need post!

Would you mind if I added a link to this post on my sidebar at I'd Rather B Birdin'? We all need to be more aware of these goings-on.

Thanks for this.

Phil Slade said...

No problem Anni. Let's tell everyone.

Phil Slade said...

No problem Anni. Let's tell everyone.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

This is absolutely frightening and disgusting. Unbelievable that people still do thins. The pet trade is responsible for a lot of sins.

Birdringal-andalus said...

Phil thank you very much for your comments and all fellow members. I leave the link of a video I could record last year, a furtive person trying to fool me with your permission.
These people were captured Goldfinch with prohibited traps and a non-working day for his capture.
Of course I put this whole episode to the attention of the authorities who brought a fine.
Here the video:
Phil, when you want to visit my area already know that here you have your home and a friend.
Regards, Fernando.

Marie C said...

What is the matter with some people! That's awful!

Chris Rohrer said...

This makes me so angry. What a SOB! Thanks for exposing this loser on the internet. These birds, or any wildlife out there, should be protected better. No slap on the hands but a stiff fine and jail time. It's here in the US as well although we do not hear about it often. Sometimes it's about hunters shooting the wrong birds and illegally shooting birds, etc from reports. I begin to wonder if I should hide my reports! Crazy people out there.

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