Larsen traps: The legal position in Scotland

The use of Larsen traps is regulated by General Licences (GLs) issued under section 16 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Separate licences are issued annually by NatureScot. All trap operators must be registered in advance with NatureScot in order to use traps under GLs. You are not required to carry a licence on your person. These licences restrict the use of Larsen traps, Larsen mates and Larsen pod traps to ‘authorised persons’ (effectively landowners, occupiers or persons with their permission) who must understand and comply with their conditions ie. General Licence 01 is for the conservation of wild birds and GL 02 is for the prevention of serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit.

The licences only cover situations where Nature Scot are satisfied that there is no other satisfactory solution in respect of the species to which they relate and the circumstances in which the licensed action may be taken. If you follow the guidance given in this good practice guide you should be well within the law, but the following points should be re-emphasised:

  • A Larsen trap, Larsen mate or Larsen pod trap to be used under a general licence must only display a single tag or sign that shows the NatureScot Trap Registration Number which allows the individual operator to be identified. All trap operators must be registered in advance with NatureScot in order to use traps under this licence. To obtain a registration number visit this page.
  • When a Larsen trap, Larsen mate or Larsen pod trap is not in use it must be immobilised and rendered incapable of use. Access doors must be secured in an inoperable position with a padlock or the trap removed from the site. Only operate Larsen traps, Larsen mates or Larsen pod traps under the terms and conditions of each licence for the purpose specified.
  • Check trap(s) at least once every day (at intervals of no more than 24 hours) unless not possible because of unexpected severe weather conditions. A buddy system can be operated whereby the registered operator may temporarily authorise another person to check their trap(s).
  • Provide adequate food, water, shelter and a suitable perch, that does not cause discomfort to the bird’s feet, at all times.
  • Only the following three species can be used as Larsen decoys: carrion and hooded crow and magpie. Jackdaws may only be used as decoys in multi-catch crow cages.
  • Only one decoy bird may be used in a Larsen trap and it must be kept in a separate compartment; the decoy must be removed when the trap is not in use.
  • Eggs, bread and meat bait are all permitted for use in Larsen mate, pod and traditional Larsen traps. Operators intending to use meat-based baits in Larsen mate or pod traps must provide register with NatureScot in advance and will be asked to provide an annual return comprising the number and types of traps used and the area in which they will be used. See General Licences for relevant NatureScot contact details.
  • Larsen mate or Larsen pod traps must be firmly pegged or staked down or tethered prior to use. Traditional Larsen traps do not need to be secured in place.
  • A Larsen mate trap must have a minimum distance of 39cm between any two corners when set open. The trap must not shut tightly along the majority of the length of the meeting edges.
  • Any trap used under General Licence must not be designed or used in such a way to likely cause injury or unnecessary suffering to any bird trapped.
  • Larsen traps, Larsen mates or Larsen pod traps should not be used within 500m of a designated site listed under the General Licence where you cannot meet the site’s “Standing Conditions”. These standing conditions are available here.
  • Definition of Larsen trap specifically excludes designs of any trap where one or more capture compartments are mounted directly above the decoy department. This prohibits the placement of a Larsen mate or pod on top of a Larsen trap.

It is also important to remember that the licences are issued for only a year at a time, and that they can be amended. It is up to you to ensure that you are aware of the current licence conditions, and that you stick to them. You can view and download the current licences on the NatureScot website. Please do remember to take note of the welfare points. Look after your call birds, and keep your traps clean. Strict adherence to our guidelines will not only ensure that keepers are working within the law, it will also help the public accept this valuable trapping technique.