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Wallasey man faces court over 'hawk-catching' jackets
A WIRRAL man was given a conditional discharge after he admitted to owning “hawk-catching” jackets designed to kill birds of prey.
Robert Platt, of Bryn Bank, Wallasey, appeared at Wirral Magistrates Court on Thursday, January 17, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of the jackets and two cage traps.
The 53-year-old also admitted to failing to meet the welfare needs of a magpie by keeping it in an “unsuitable environment,” namely an unset trap.
In addition to a conditional discharge for two years, he was ordered to pay £2,000 costs and the court made a deprivation order on the magpie.
The RSPB said it had received “extensive” information on the illegal use of such devices - often referred to as “anti-mating jackets” to disguise their true purpose – by certain people in the pigeon-keeping community.
They are used to catch and kill birds of prey but it is thought Platt’s case is the first time such devices have been discovered during an investigation.
The jackets are fitted on a pigeon and can have contraptions attached to them including nooses and also fishing hooks which are used to catch and usually kill or maim birds of prey.
The birds of prey will swoop on a pigeon which is flying wearing the jacket and become caught on the device – it will then usually result in the bird of prey’s slow and painful death.
The case came to light after the RSPCA was alerted to a net believed to be used for trapping wild birds spotted at Platt’s allotment.
Police and the RSPCA visited the allotment in December 2011 and found a magpie in a trap as well as other bird-trapping equipment.
James Leonard from RSPB investigations said: “The jackets have been designed to be fitted to a live pigeon for the express purpose of illegally catching, and ultimately killing, birds of prey.
“Any bird of prey that became caught on this would most likely die as a result of being tangled in the nooses and unable to hunt, or through being caught by the fishing hooks which could seriously injure the bird.
“These are barbaric devices and we are grateful to the RSPCA for bringing this matter before the court.”