Death in a National Park

Many people think that a National Park provides a safe haven for wildlife. It’d be a reasonable expectation. The reality is somewhat different.

The following photographs were taken last week inside the Peak District National Park. To be more precise, they were taken on the northern side of the Bole Edge Plantation (Strines Wood), close to Bradfield grouse moor.

These Fenn (spring) traps appear to be legal, in as much as they have been set inside an artificial tunnel. However, the tunnel entrances do not appear to have been effectively restricted to minimise the risk to non-target species. The legal requirement for tunnel restriction is a bit of a grey area and apparently is at the discretion of the trap operator.

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34 thoughts on “Death in a National Park”

  1. it is just so upsetting to see this kind of cruelty….How can this be happening in the 21st century in an apparently civilised country…since wild creatures belong to no-one, this must concern everyone…the neanderthals who would cause such suffering need stopping and soon !

  2. In one of the tunnels the trap is set right at the entrance. From the GCWT website –

    ‘Tunnels should not be too large. If an animal can turn around in the tunnel it may not be trapped cleanly. Tunnels for spring traps like the Fenn and Springer should be just wide enough to accommodate the set trap with its safety catch off, and just high enough for the jaws to close freely when the trap is sprung. In the case of the No 4 size; this is16cm wide by 13cm high. This gives the animal less ‘room for manoeuvre’, and reduces the risk of the trap not killing to a minimum.’

    ‘It is also important to set the trap well back into the tunnel, and not in the entrance. In this way your trap is less likely to deter a shy or cautious predator. Also, once the animal is well into the tunnel, it is more likely to be committed to going right through, rather than trying to turn round.’

  3. National Parks should be a safe haven for all wildlife, that is what the original (USA) parks were for “to protect the natural environment for all time for future generations”. Our (UK) parks are a joke in this respect. All raptors are disappearing fast from the Cairngorms National Park which is a total disgrace.

  4. A lot of animals, including birds, must automatically inspect any new features on their territory, it could have food, be a breeding, roosting site etc. I bet there’s a hell of a lot of ‘bycatch’ with these traps and I’d love to know what the keepers are actually removing from them. Not at all surprised if species such as ring ouzel are seriously depressed in some areas because of this.

    1. Another naive response but a requirement to have the traps inspected alongside an independent observer as part of any licensing of grouse moors might (ha) just make gamekeepers be a bit more careful when making their tunnels? Any estate being caught out a second time, license revoked? OK maybe that’s generous ….

      They tell us that wildlife does well under their management regimes yet to be constantly caught out with all this by-catch (remember too poor tufty the red squirrel Mark Avery showed graphic images of rather contradicts their pr spin?

  5. The decoy birds often have their wings broken… So releasing them is sometimes not an option.
    Personally and this is my personal thing…. It is better to put them out of their misery…although this is an offence criminal damage / trespass.

  6. If you see any cages or traps. SMASH THEM UP. They don’t play by the rules so why should we!!

    [Ed: It is an offence to interfere with legally-set traps. If you find a trap that you think has been set illegally (e.g. a spring trap set out in the open or on top of a post), take pictures, note the grid reference, and call the Police immediately. It should also be reported to RSPB Investigations]

    1. (Paul, I sympathise with your feelings. )

      OK, being completely legal and completely sickened as you all are by yet another instance of destruction of our wildlife:

      I see that the NP overall body is based in Cardiff, but I can’t see a name on their web site of a person in overall charge, just the names of Chairs of each of the 15 Parks.

      Or is the overall controller DEFRA?

      My group will be writing again in protest – we shall be asking for a ban on the killing of wildlife in the National Parks.
      To us, it’s immaterial whether the shooting, snaring, stamping on is legal or illegal, it’s all cruel.

      Yes, I know this is naive. But defenceless animals and birds should be safe somewhere.

      1. No killing of ANY wildlife in a national.park.? What about deer management, or invasive species like mink that have nearly eradicated water vokes in some areas. There are some sheep farmers who suffer serious damage to lambs from foxes crows and ravens. Must they be denied the right to protect their crop? What about rodents doing damage to crops and homes as well…..or aren’t they wildlife? Not as easy as it first appears

        1. Robbie Rowantree, it’s misinformation like that which causes so many problems. I won’t accuse you of lying because you may well believe what you say, but it is no longer universally agreed that mink were responsible for local extinctions of water voles. A species can be vulnerable to predation affecting populations if there is an underlying cause for concern; in the case of water voles the jury is currently out. Some groups still insist on blaming the mink, of course, even where mink themselves have almost died out, because it’s a convenient scapegoat. If there are any farmers who suffer “serious damage to lambs” from foxes, crows and ravens, then they’re vey good at keeping it to themselves, because no scientific investigation has been able to confirm that any of these species cause the slightest significant damage to sheep farming. Basically, these myths are perpetuated by farmers who suspect they are true, or by gamekeepers whose livelihoods depend on them. There are extremely few incidences of rodents doing damage to crops nowadays, and as for homes well that’s for the householder to deal with as they see fit, within the law. We’re far too quick to react to the slightest “trouble” from wildlife, when the simple answer is to leave them alone and at worst tolerate a bit of damage. We no longer live in a world where wild animals pose any significant threats to our well being, and it’s time to ignore our own primitive urges as control freaks.

    2. Sorry Ed, I agree with Paul.You and I know full well the majority of these so called “legal” traps are not set to kill a ” targeted” animal they are put there to kill anything that moves within one of the Independent Estates of the United Kingdom.As for reporting the matter to the ” Police ” and taking photos/ videos.We have already crossed this ground on too many occasions and more often than not got no where.The Police,the Judicial System,Land Owners em !!
      So when were in the “countryside” we’ve to basically condone such evil, as these traps are,and continue on our way
      knowing that a legally protected animal may suffer an horrific death, yeah that’ll make my Sunday dinner taste all the better.And Ed I know we can’t be seen to be criminals,but how much sxxx do we need to see.


    4. Anyone inclined to smash up a cage trap should be aware 1. that the trap may be covered by a hidden camera and 2. the shooting industry is anxious to discredit their critics.

      So smashing up the trap might well be just what they want.

  7. Our supposed national parks are a joke when you see this criminality. The previous Tory government was bad enough but I have a feeling this new one will be worse. Especially when the likes of Leadsom are given key posts.

    [Ed: These photographs don’t show “criminality” – the traps are lawful]

    1. They might be lawful but – please correct me if I am wrong – do they not have to be inspected at regular intervals? Seems to me that the trap in the top photo hasn’t been inspected for weeks!

    2. These particular traps might be lawful, but it’s high time they weren’t! Such a comment will be inferred in certain quarters as tacit approval! In any case, is it lawful to bycatch a Starling? Or a raptor which dies as a result? The traps are not selective, so could be argued to be not fit for lawful purpose. They are primitive instruments of torture and death which should be made illegal, now.

  8. We have a vision in which within the Peak District National Park and Dark Peak SSSI there is at least one large (6,000 hectare) area where predator control to support grouse-shooting is not necessary. The only problem is that it’s on land owned by the National Trust. The Trust have just evicted their shooting tenant (yay), but still say they are going to advertise for a replacement who can demonstrate that grouse-moor management doesn’t conflict with conservation or access interests. We believe the Trust has just seen all the evidence it needs to conclude that a conflict is utterly inevitable. But maybe it needs more persuading. . .

    As a result, we have just formed a coalition of a dozen local outdoor and wildlife groups to support and lobby the National Trust – and all the readers of Raptor Persecution can help us. We are calling on them to be bolder. Maybe it need only be a 10 year experiment, but find different partners to work who can help restore the Derbyshire moors around Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Ladybower and create an area where 200 of the 1,220 shooting butts in the Peak District remain unused.

    To get our message across we have an online petition, plus a downloadable/printable version for handing to friends or work colleagues.

    Full details on the Moorland Vision website at, or go straight to the online petition here:

    1. Too many complications and compromises being introduced. We’d be better off focusing on Mark Avery’s campaign to ban driven grouse shooting, and see it through to the bitter end. The practice is archaic and unnecessary in the modern world. I won’t be joining any groups who are petitioning for a compromise. Why isn’t your moorland vision for a conservation charity (or even a public authority) to take over management of the grouse moors and start the process by declaring them no-shooting zones? Then we can have biodiversity aplenty, and rejoice at the return of the Hen Harriers.

    1. “those traps are not being inspected regularly.”…a good point but unfortunately there is no legal requirement to inspect these traps..because if they are being used legally they are designed to instantly kill their “target species”. Of course, if they are being badly or wrongfully set and catch larger, non-target species the bird or animal may not be killed and will suffer, Catch 22…

      In other european countries traps such as this – particularly crow cage and larsen traps – are illegal as they are seen to be indiscriminate as to species caught or killed…but in good old laissez faire, still run by toffs and their lackeys, UK…our laws are bent towards the shooting “community”.

  9. It is a pole trap for all intents and purposes and these were outlawed many years ago, the trap is legal the method of setting it is not.

  10. Seems like nothings changed much xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx one of the areas where Goshawks attempted to make a comeback in the early 70’s, needless to say any nesting attempt was quickly nipped in the bud, virtually none made it to fledging. Adult birds mysteriously disappeared, nests were robbed of eggs and chicks, there were many traps, poison, shooting, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  11. Years ago when BBC Wildlife Magazine used to run wildlife essays competitions they printed one excellent feature about a young guy who developed a fascination with stoats. Unfortunately the site he watched them happened to be a grouse moor and obviously there were traps and snares set aplenty for them and anything else with sharp teeth. His spontaneous solution was to urinate on a snare in the belief this would deter stoats from approaching it. Is this true? I’m just wondering because I would hate to be walking the moors and unintentionally make wee wee on or near one of these legal predator control contraptions.

  12. The traps themselves are not the problem – the setting of them in such an exposed location is the issue as highlighted by what appears to be a dead thrush in one of them

  13. If in scotland report to sspca…………far better chance of ensuring a proper investigation is carried out.

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