Trapping Crows & Magpies

Spring is fast approaching and as this is when the majority of trapping needs to takes place; we have produced a brief guide for those planning to trap crows and magpies in particular.

The General License

To legally trap carrion crows and magpies; you must first obtain a copy of the general license for this and adhere to the conditions it contains to comply with the law. The general license covers year-round vermin control in the UK and specifies what you are allowed to trap and by what means. To be covered under the general license, you need not apply but are legally required to thoroughly read and follow the directives set out. The general license varies between different UK governments and can be found here: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These licenses are updated yearly; we’d recommend keeping yourself up to date with any changes in the law that may affect your trapping.



When setting a Larsen trap; be sure to include something to encourage targeted birds into the trap. This can be either a caught corvid call-bird (which will produce the best results) or a decoy bird. Magpie Decoys will successfully attract both magpies and crows, whereas a Crow Decoy will only attract crows. This is due to the aggressiveness of crows; a magpie will attract crows as crows look to secure their territory but a magpie will actively avoid a crow.

Once baited, ensure that there is plenty of food and water in each compartment so that the trapped birds do not suffer. Also, if using a call-bird, ensure it has a perch to stand on for comfort and roosting at night. Make sure it has shade and is also well fed and watered. A healthy call-bird will also produce the best results. Newly caught territorial birds make much better call-birds so be sure to change when the bird appears to be becoming tame. 


The Trap

For the trap itself, there are two types of Larsen trap with each performing better in different situations. The Multi Larsen and Multi Catch traps both use a side entry system which performs best in open environments with no fences or trees nearby. The bird enters through the side and instinctively steps on the wire treadle causing the door behind it to shut; instantly trapping the bird. The Solway Larsen trap is a top entry system which performs best in woods or where birds have the option to approach from above. This system works by the target bird landing on one of the perches within the cage. The perch gives way and activates the spring on the door above; the bird is completely trapped.

When not in use, ensure the trap can not be triggered or harm any animals. For top entry traps this can be as simple as turning them upside down. The best thing to do to guarantee animal safety and extend a trap's working life is to keep it in storage when not in use. 

Extra tips

  • Check, empty and reset your trap under the cover of darkness to avoid arousing suspicion amongst target birds.
  • Set traps away from the prying eyes of the public; be it a footpath or a nearby road, setting traps in sight of the general public can result in the tampering or vandalism of traps or the freeing of trapped birds.
  • Be sure to dispatch any caught pests quickly and humanely or move them to the call-bird’s compartment (while guaranteeing that they are well fed and watered). If any non-target/non-pest birds are caught, be sure to release them as it would be illegal to do anything other than this. This is one of the greatest benefits of a Larsen trap; they allow us to ensure that non-target species are not harmed.
  • Traps perform best when placed on the ground in plain view of the main nest of a target species.
  • If you find that after two days that no birds have been caught, experiment with new trapping locations until you find the right place for your trap.