A Shropshire gamekeeper has avoided jail after admitting using an illegal trap and allowing another keeper to catch birds of prey illegally.
Roger Venton, 34, of Wheldrake Lane, Elvington, North Yorkshire, was handed a sentence of three months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, at Telford Magistrates' Court.
The former head gamekeeper on the Kempton Estate in Shropshire pleaded guilty to using a spring trap and permitting assistant keeper Kyle Burden to use a cage trap to illegally catch birds of prey.
The charges, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act, included allowing Burden to use a caged trap baited with a raven. The court heard Venton was employed as head gamekeeper at the estate in March last year, where Burden, 19, of Kempton, already worked.
Geoffrey Dann, prosecuting, said the 6,000-acre estate was home to a pheasant and partridge shoot, with around 40,000 pheasants and 20,000 partridges.
He told the court the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) were contacted by two separate seasonal gamekeepers employed at Kempton who reported the illegal killing of protected wildlife including buzzards and badgers.
Investigators went to the estate on July 16 last year where they found a cage trap.
Cage traps are allowed in some circumstances, providing the bait is well looked after, and should not be used where they could trap birds of prey.
Further RSPB investigations found a pole trap - a spring trap placed on top of a tall pole. The court heard these were made illegal in 1904 as they can attract birds of prey.