Fears for safety of birds as live traps found
Traps containing small birds being used as live bait have sparked fears poachers are trying to catch sparrowhawks.
The RSPB and Lincolnshire Police have found nets containing dead and live creatures at a farm, where they also found a small wire cage on a pole containing two dead warblers with fishing wire nooses on the outside.
Investigators are linking the discovery to a 2ft tall mesh cage baited with a Greenfinch which was hoisted 20ft up a tree a mile away on the north side of Boston Cemetery. This trap also had fishing wire snares fixed to the outside.
It is believed the traps were designed to catch sparrowhawks, which could have been be lured in to attack the thrashing birds.
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But they are struggling to understand why anyone would target the protected bird of prey, unless they have a grudge.
Pest control seems an unlikely motive and supplies to taxidermists are strictly regulated.
There have been previous cases of gamekeepers illegally killing birds of prey in upland areas, which has been ruled out in the cases in the Boston area.
Rogue pigeon fanciers have targeted sparrowhawks in the past but it is currently unknown if this is the case here.
Mark Thomas, RSPB senior investigations officer, warned there may well be other cages. "It is shocking to find traps such as this in this day and age," he said.
"It looks as though this is a concerted campaign against sparrowhawks is underway in the Boston area and the RSPB are appealing for any information to be reported immediately."
Derek Tindall, the falconer at Lincoln Castle, who lives in South Carlton, said the crimes in Boston are puzzling.
"In days of old they used to use Sparrowhawks to catch larks but it's illegal to do that now," he said.
"Falconry is still used to take wild game for the table but a Sparrowhawk would not pick up anything useful and in any case there are proper breeding programmes.
"Perhaps it's someone with garden birds who has had a problem with Sparrowhawks.
"But this is taking things to the extreme and as territorial birds, if you get rid of one Sparrowhawk another will soon take its place."
It is understood the culprits would have access to small wild birds and a knowledge of how to build traps.
People who may have seen someone carrying a cage or putting string up a tree are asked to come forward.
But police are advising people not to remove or touch any traps.
Sparrowhawks are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it an offence to intentionally kill or injure them which attracts up to 6 months' imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine.
Anyone with details should call Lincolnshire Police on 101 or the RSPB on 01767 680551.