The crows are pairing up on the Chayne. More and more of their distant black silhouettes seem to be coming out of the woodwork every time I visit, and it really is about time that I concentrated on doing something about them. The thought of tiny grouse chicks being gobbled up by hateful yammering corbie crows almost makes my blood boil. I recently acquired a Solway Multi Larsen trap from Solway Feeders, a company based just a few miles south of the Chayne, and I am determined to use it to my advantage.
Crows, magpies and rooks can be killed under a general licence to protect crops and livestock, and Larsen traps can only be legally operated by an individual who has reason to suspect that these birds are damaging his agricultural livelihood. Strangely, game birds are not really considered to be livestock, so killing flying vermin to protect them is something of a legal grey area. With the lambing season coming in on the Chayne, reducing the crow population is as much of a problem for the shepherdess and her lambs as it is for my grouse chicks and I, so I have passed responsibility for maintaining this new Larsen trap on to her. Not only will she be available to perform the vital duties of checking the trap daily and feeding the call bird, but she will remove crows from the Chayne in the name of livestock preservation rather than gamebird conservation.
It is an odd situation where the law makers put greater value on protecting an ailing lamb from crow predation than the chick of an endangered and nationally significant gamebird like a black grouse, but these things are not supposed to be simple. Still, once a crow is dead it does no more harm, regardless of why it was killed.
The Solway Multi Larsen trap is unlike any other larsen trap that I have ever seen. Unlike the traditional top entry cube of mesh and timber, the multi larsen trap is a short cylindrical mesh cage with four side entry trap doors and a large circular compartment in the centre where the call bird sits. Capable of catching up to three crows in a single sitting, this seems to be the Rolls Royce of larsen traps and I know that it will make a huge impact on the local vermin.
I have had a particular spot for setting the trap in mind since I first decided that I needed a larsen trap. Overlooking the lambing fields on one side and facing out to the grouse moor on the other, the narrow pine strip seemed like an obvious spot to start. Several crows like to perch on the delicate pine tops for a view over the open country and it should produce some good results, provided that the trap is properly managed.
I drove up to the Chayne yesterday to drop it off. I will leave the trap to lie for a few days in a sheltered spot before doing anything with it so that the crows will get used to seeing it. Then it will be “all systems go”.