A Very Different G&T

G & T anyone? I suspect, when you ask most people this question, they would accept, expecting a small cool drink with ice and lemon. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of G & T that I am referring to. Not a gin and tonic, but a gin and trap, or, gin trap.



Gin trap sounds less attractive doesn’t it? Well, that’s putting it mildly. For those of us who don’t know, a gin trap is in fact a kind of spring trap, with steel and sometimes serrated teeth, which closes with extreme force when triggered. Traditionally used to catch animals, they can cause serious injury and death. Today in the UK, gin traps are illegal, but as with anything concerning wildlife, just because there is a law against it, does not mean it does not happen. Gin traps are still used by some to catch birds of prey and other predators such as foxes.

Recently, there has been another case of a possible illegal trap being used. Although the particulars are yet unclear, it has been suggested that it is a possible case of an illegal gin trap. This case occurred in Dunadry, Northern Ireland, and the animal caught was sadly killed. The animal in question? A fox? A raptor? No, in fact, an otter.



A species not typically targeted by such traps, it was a rare and charismatic otter that was caught and killed in the trap. Caught by the neck, it is thought that bait may have been laid in order to attract the animal, causing the otter to place its head in the trap. As the trap was left on the riverbank, police are suggesting that this fact alone implies that otters were specifically being targeted. In addition to the possibility of the illegality of the trap, the fact that otters are protected by European law makes this incident illegal on more than one level.

Although it is not yet confirmed whether a gin trap was indeed used, or whether it was a legal clamp trap, the circumstances under which the trap was set renders it as illegal. Described as ‘sickening’, the incident has also attracted condemnation from other countries, including the USA. However, it is not just the catching of the otter that is causing a stir. The trap was set on a riverbank, in a well known area, used by walkers and anglers. Such traps are not to be trifled with, they are exceedingly dangerous and could catch an adult, child or dog and cause serious damage.

There is a reason why such traps are illegal: they are dangerous to the public and indiscriminate in the animals they capture. The use of such traps is irresponsible and dangerous, but once again, the need to remove an animal overrides better judgement. Even if you do not care for the animals that you may potentially catch (which I am assuming you do not) imagine what damage such a trap could do to a small child. Amputation of a limb? Infection? Blood loss? Death? Dramatic? I don’t think so. These traps are designed to kill, irrespective of what they catch.




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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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