Campaigns: Ban cruel Larsen traps

The cruel Larsen trap is used to catch magpies and other birds.

Designed in Denmark in the 1950s, these traps are now banned there due to the suffering caused. They use a permanently trapped bird to lure in other birds. They fly down on to the trap, fall through a collapsing floor and find themselves trapped too.

Before being brutally killed, they will be overcome with the fear and stress of confinement. Some will suffer thirst, hunger and starvation while others will sustain broken beaks and cut heads from futile attempts to smash their way to freedom. When magpie parents are caught, their orphaned chicks will starve to death in nests.

Larsen traps are also used to catch foxes.

Video: Magpie caught in cruel Larsen trap


Please join us in calling on the Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs to urgently introduce a ban on Larsen traps.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
23 Kildare Street
Dublin 2

Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3800
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Photos: Larsen trap cruelty

Quotes: Larsen trap cruelty

"Phil Wilson, chief superintendent of the RSPCA's prosecution department, said: 'It is the RSPCA's view that these [Larsen] traps are inherently cruel.' He added: 'There is no evidence that magpies have a significant effect on the songbird population.'" (From Larsen trapper convicted of cruelty to magpie)

"I consider the Larsen trap to be rather inhumane. I know in Denmark where the trap was developed it is banned for this reason but it is legal in the UK. I have been watching a magpie in a trap (food and water provided) for 4 days now and it appears distressed with a lot of repetitive actions." (Comment posted on a UK bird club forum)

"The wild 'decoy bird' its most vital instincts frustrated and abused by confinement, suffers a most terrible fate. Close to the ground it is terrorised by predators, and watches as its fellow birds are brutally killed in front of it. A number end up being found dead through neglect...It is also clear that the trapping is going on all through the summer months and that untold thousands of magpie chicks have starved to death in their nests due to their parents birds being trapped. " (From the website of Against Corvid Traps)

"I have found many larsen traps with dead decoy birds which appeared to have died from starvation." (From a National Parks and Wildlife Service conservation ranger)

"Magpies are incredibly intelligent and beautiful birds. Have you ever seen a live magpie used in a Larsen Trap. It was one of the most horrible things I have ever seen. This intelligent bird was totally demented (I let it out)." (From online discussion about Larsen traps)

"A story told by the naturalist WH Hudson more than 100 years ago has always intrigued me. A man who kept a magpie in a hutch - perhaps a precursor of the Larsen trap - observed that some small birds who daringly snatched crumbs through the bars were inevitably lunged at by the pied prisoner. All but one: a robin that appeared to have a damaged beak. For this tiny bird the magpie was seen to break up crusts and feed it!" (From Country Matters, Irish Independent, April 24 2005)

"Larsen traps [are] the most disgusting method of persecution. The Larsen trap comprises a cage with two compartments, each with a spring door. One compartment holds the terrified decoy bird; the second has its door held open by a split perch. In order to enter the trap, a magpie will invariably drop onto the perch out of curiosity, this will then give way, and the door springs shut, leaving the trapped magpie to its fate and the decoy magpie to be used over and over until it dies of stress and even starvation in some cases." [From In Defence of Magpies - a leaflet published by Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue -]

Leaflet: In defence of magpies
(Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue -

Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 196 - Answered on 13th January, 2011

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will ban the Larsen cage trap which has been banned in Denmark due to the stress and injury caused to the captured birds which either die of starvation or are subsequently strangled to death.

Written Answer. Ref No: 1890/11

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr John Gormley):

My Department has responsibility for regulating the use of traps, snares and nets in relation to wildlife in accordance with the provisions of the Wildlife Acts and the Wildlife Act, 1976 (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations 2003. The use of the Larson cage trap complies with the provisions of the 2003 Regulations.

I recently made regulations concerning the use of animal-based poison baits and these regulations, together with changes made by the Department of Agriculture Food and Fisheries to the permitted uses of poisons, have the effect that is illegal to poison any bird. It is necessary, however, for farmers and other land managers to have other options available for the control of species which may cause serious damage to livestock, crops or other fauna and flora.

Question 398 - Answered on 25th January, 2011

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of 13 January 2011, the justification for allowing the use of the Larsen cage trap, the unnecessary and wilful cruelty of which has been confirmed by various officials and organisations.

Written Answer. Ref No: 3362/11

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Ó Cuív):

As stated in the previous reply to Parliamentary Question No. 196 the Larson cage trap complies with the provisions of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (Approved Traps, Snares and Nets) Regulations 2003 and I have no plans to change the Regulations in this regard.

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