As I arrived at the office this morning, I took a call from Ernie, a reader from Congleton in cheshire.
He's had a spot of bother with the RSPCA, or more particularly with an individual Inspector.Basically, Ernie cleans windows for a living. There's one group of 4 bungalows where he does the windows of some OAPs. The residents were bemoaning the fact that there are huge numbers of magpies around the area, and they hardly see songbirds any more.
So Ernie stepped up and offered them his services. He had a Larsen trap in his garage, and he offered to set it up and reduce the local magpie population. In fact he was quite successful, even using just roadkill and eggs as bait, and no call bird. He had no wish to kill the magpies, and was driving them some way away and releasing them in woodland. Not that the RSPCA would have known that.Anyhow, a few days ago his trap disappeared. Eventually he discovered that a certain RSPCA Inspector had 'confiscated' it. That is, he went onto private land and removed someone's private property, which so far as I can tell was being used entirely lawfully (within the terms of the General Licence).
In my book that sounds more like theft.So once Ernie got it touch, the RSPCA apologised profusely for overstepping the mark and returned the 'confiscated' trap? Did they heck!The Inspector has bombarded Ernie with police-speak, causing him considerable stress and worry. Ernie is now confused about his legal position, and worries that all this may affect his ability to renew his Shotgun Certificate when it next comes up (he's a keen clay shooter).
To cap it all, our charming 'Inspector' called Ernie last night and said he was 'finalising the paperwork'. He said he was recommending that Ernie should 'just get a caution', and asked if he would agree to the destruction of the trap. Ernie felt so bullied by this stage that he mumbled 'I suppose so'.This sort of bullying by the RSPCA has to stop. Give someone a uniform, a shiny badge and a paramilitary title, and the temptation is to start throwing their weight about. It's human nature, and history provides many examples of just how wrong things can get. There needs to be a system of checks and balances. Who inspects and regulates these people?I've sent the following email to the RSPCA's press office, and await their response: