Cruel Wolverhampton man who trapped magpies and ‘left them to suffer’ receives ban

A man from the Black Country who trapped wild birds and kept them in squalid conditions in his garden has been convicted of an animal cruelty offence. Richard Robin Orton, of Westland Road, Wolverhampton, used Larsen traps in his back garden to ‘trap and kill magpies’.

Witnesses raised concerns about the welfare of birds in the traps with the RSPCA. The charity’s offices raised Orton’s home and found two trapped magpies in shocking conditions.

One was housed within a wire cage with access to only half of the cage. There was only a small amount of ‘very dirty water’ present and no food the bird could access.

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There was a ‘significant amount of faeces’ within the cage and it was ‘extremely foul smelling’. In the section of the cage the bird could not access, there was what looked like a piece of rabbit skin present. The bird was in ‘poor physical condition with the breast bone prominent and muscle loss’.

The second magpie, which a vet concluded was ‘even thinner than the first’ with no fat covering and a loss of muscle, was housed within a wood and chicken wire cage with access to only half of the cage.

There was some dirty water present, which was green in colour, and there was no food present in the area of the cage the bird could access. Just like the cage where the first magpie was found, there was a ‘significant amount of faeces within the cage and it was extremely foul smelling’.

A vet’s report said: “Both birds would have suffered unnecessarily for a minimum of two weeks but in reality likely longer. They did not have their welfare needs met due to the failure to provide an appropriate environment.

“From the amount of faeces observed within the traps, it is my opinion that no cleaning or removal of droppings had occurred within the previous four weeks, but likely a considerably longer period of time. It must be stressful and distressing to-be-living-in-the-same area as you pass faeces with no-way to remove yourself from these conditions.”

RSPCA Inspector Ben Jones, who investigated Orton, said: “Every year the RSPCA receives many calls from the public concerned about the use of Larsen traps to capture wild birds. Larsen traps can be made of wood or metal and contain two or three compartments to allow the use of a live decoy bird, like a magpie, to attract other magpies in defence of their territory.

“Although such traps are legal, strict controls relate to their use. If these are breached – and it is easy to do so - the trap setter loses the legal protection of a general licence for trapping and killing magpies and could face being prosecuted."

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He continued: “People who trap magpies could leave themselves open to prosecution should they infringe any one of a number of strict conditions relating to the use of Larsen traps. Trap setters have to provide the decoy bird with food, water, shelter and a perch and inspect the trap every 24 hours.

“Sadly there is great potential for suffering of wild birds in being contained in cramped, unsuitable spaces, as we’ve seen here with the two birds found in Orton’s possession.”

Orton was banned from keeping birds and ferrets for five years and ordered to pay £312 when he was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on April 17. His conviction under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 also means he can no longer use Natural England's general licences. The magpies were both released back into the wild.