More evidence of mountain hares being used as bait on Peak District National Park grouse moors

A few days ago we wrote a blog about what appeared to be a bin full of dead mountain hares being used as bait in a stink pit bin on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (see here).

The blog stimulated a lot of comments about the identification of the species in the bin, whether or not the bin was being used as a stink pit, and whether the whole thing had been a set up by the Hunt Investigation Team.

A blog reader (independent of the Hunt Investigation Team) has sent in some more photographs that were taken on the same grouse moor, and on one other grouse moor also within the National Park, in years previous to the Hunt Investigation Team’s visit earlier this year.

This image (below) is particularly interesting – it’s the same stink pit bin, photographed in 2015, clearly showing a set snare on the lead in path, presumably set to catch any fox that might be attracted to the stench of rotting flesh in the bin:

On the same estate, a dead mountain hare with its belly slit open was photographed (1 March 2015) on a path where a snare had been set. The snare is quite difficult to see in this photo – it is to right of the path, adjacent to the fallen branch:

This photo (below) shows the same scene from the reverse angle, with the snare in the foreground:

This photo (below) shows another stink pit containing dead mountain hares (this time on a different grouse moor within the National Park) and the photographer says snares were seen surrounding the site but they were not set (photo taken Xmas Eve 2016).

It is clear from these photographs that mountain hares are being used as bait on these grouse moors to attract in predators that will be snared and killed. All of this is legal.

However, as we argued on the earlier blog, the mountain hare is listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species (UKBAP), identified as threatened and requiring conservation action. The Peak District National Park Authority has the mountain hare listed as a priority species within the Park and say it is “a locally important species for which we’re taking action” (see here).

How does allowing them to be killed on a grouse moor within the National Park, and then used as bait to catch and kill other wildlife, constitute conservation action?

Emails to Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park Authority:

17 thoughts on “More evidence of mountain hares being used as bait on Peak District National Park grouse moors”

  1. If this were to come under public scrutiny it would be totally unacceptable. It’s really a “national disgrace” within a National Park. Working practises like these should surely be consigned to history. I recognise there may well be a need for culling and some form of predator control in certain circumstances, but it’s definitely time to call a halt to snaring.

  2. Perhaps a journalist who works for a National might like to see these pictures and read about what goes on…I’m sure it would make a great story…we still have a free press of sorts, after all !

    1. Email sent to editorial staff of New Internationalist alerting them to the issue and inviting them, if they do nothing else for now, to subscribe to the blog to get an understanding of what is going on.

  3. I’ve seen rabbit’s on grouse moors in pits which had been gutted but not surrounded by snares.

    At the time I had no idea what was going on but now suspect that the dead rabbit’s had been laced with something. Especially after a red kite was found poisoned on the same grouse moor a couple of years later.

    I haven’t seen this since on the same grouse moor and I can only guess that this is because of the publicity surrounding the poisoned kite.

    Grouse moors are truly awful places which should have no place in 2017, they’re wildlife free zones and an ecological disaster.

    I would be against them even if I had no interest in raptors and their persecution. I fully believe that banning driven grouse shooting is in the national interest.

    1. How to achieve that aim though Mick…the petition and so-called debate last year didn’t go atall well,. I believe they had no intention make any changes and only allowed the debate atall because of the huge number of signatures. Seems the people responsible for this horror story have good connections making it virtually impossible to change a thing. Brutalised people are impossible to reason with and other than folk turning up to sabotage shoots I dont know how this aim can be achieved.

      1. All we can do is keep the pressure up by publicising what is happening. The more the public learn about the grouse moors the closer we get to the time when they are banned and they surely will be.

  4. The snares have a secondary purpose to catching wild animals. They also provide the landowners and estates with the means they complain about people’ vandalising’ where they have been unset or destroyed. So as unpalatable as they are, people need to leave them alone. Report to RSPCA if you find an animal alive in one

    1. If your companion animal got caught in a running scare, as did mine some time ago, I dont doubt you would have no hesitation in unsetting it, as I did after rescuing my poor little dog. Snares should be only be spoken of in a historical sense imho…it’s outrageous that they are still legal in the 21st century. I did report to both rspca and police. The former weren’t interested and the second spoke to the gamekeeper who relayed a message to me…keep off private land.

  5. Re-introducing the Hen Harrier to the uplands of Wales is most appealing against the backdrop of the slaughter everywhere else. Destructive game bird shooting has just not invaded our moorlands.
    To this end I and others have repeatedly run the idea past the RSPB Wales getting behind such a programme without so much as receiving a courteous reply and now reading Raptor Persecution we understand more why. There is every reason conservationist need take the initiative and begin to a re-populating H H Welsh programme.

    In Mallorca a collective of conservation groups with a little EU funding has enabled a 5 year programme to reintroduce the Bonelli Eagle to just conclude successfully settling 10 breeding pairs. The Bonelli was a man induced extinction in the 1930`s and has become a man induced return. I have been involved for much of the time and witnessed how relatively straightforward the procedure is, once there is a will `to go` for this rewilding.
    A small dedicated army of volunteers, a hand full of p/t staff, core funding and knowledge has reintroduced the Bonelli into Mainland Spain, Portugal and most successfully in Mallorca. We could do the same in Wales for the HH.

    Our project director Carlota Viada is giving a talk at Birdfair on Friday 18th August on this most inspiring piece of conservation and would dearly like to share her knowledge with others here in the UK wanting to try the same.

    Ben Jones

  6. I KNEW the HIT was a reliable professional organisation! Thanks for supporting them RPS.

    That photo of the snare next to the fallen log is interesting. It could be an offence.

    Also, the snare shown in the first photo is in breach of the new Code of Practice 2016. It is supposed to have a breakaway link so that if an animal larger than a fox gets caught in the snare (like a badger or a larger dog) then the snare will break up releasing the animal. It’s potentially Illegal for members of the various shooting and game keeping organisations which help draw up the Code because they should be following the best practice guidelines of their membership organisations.

    Here’s some Code info and (English) legislation.

    Code of best practice on the use of snares for fox control in England, 2016
    “At each inspection the following must be done …
    6.Check that your snares are set and positioned as intended.”

    “Never set snares:
    1.Under or near fences or other obstructions, like saplings, hedges, walls or gates that could cause entanglement.
    2.Where livestock could be caught.
    3 In areas regularly and legitimately used for the exercise of domestic animals, near public footpaths or housing.
    4.On or near to an active badger sett, or on the runs radiating from it.
    5.On footbridges, or on fallen trees or logs spanning watercourses.
    6 In such a way that the restrained animal could become fully or partially suspended, entangled, drowned or strangled.”

    “Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 you are responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that the welfare needs of all animals under your control (including those caught in a snare) are met, to the extent required by good practice. In this context, that the animal is protected from pain and suffering.

    “Legal Requirements
    3 It is an offence for a person to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal under their control (this applies to animals while held in snares and the means by which they are killed).
    4 It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a domestic animal.”

    Placement Offence 1
    Animal Welfare Act 2006, S4 Unnecessary Suffering

    S4(1) “A person commits an offence if—

    (a) an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,
    (b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,
    (c) the animal is a protected (ie captured) animal, and
    (d) the suffering is unnecessary.

    (2) A person commits an offence if

    (a) he is responsible for an animal,
    (b) an act, or failure to act, of another person causes the animal to suffer,
    (c) he permitted that to happen or failed to take such steps (whether by way of supervising the other person or otherwise) as were reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent that happening, and
    (d) the suffering is unnecessary.

    (3) The considerations to which it is relevant to have regard when determining for the purposes of this section whether suffering is unnecessary include—

    (a) whether the suffering could reasonably have been avoided or reduced;
    (b) whether the conduct which caused the suffering was in compliance with any relevant enactment or any relevant provisions of a licence or code of practice issued under an enactment; …
    (e) whether the conduct concerned was in all the circumstances that of a reasonably competent and humane person.”

    Placement Offence 2
    Animal Welfare Act 2006, S9 Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare

    S9(1) “A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.

    (2) For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include—
    (e) its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.”

    Placement Offence 3
    Protection of Animals Act 1911, S1 Offences of cruelty.

    S1(1) “If any person—

    (a) shall cruelly beat, kick, ill-treat, over-ride, over-drive, over-load, torture, infuriate, or terrify any animal, or shall cause or procure, or, being the owner, permit any animal to be so used, or shall, by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, or causing or procuring the commission or omission of any act, cause any unnecessary suffering, or, being the owner, permit any unnecessary suffering to be so caused to any animal such person shall be guilty of an offence of cruelty within the meaning of this Act.

    (2) For the purposes of this section, an owner shall be deemed to have permitted cruelty within the meaning of this Act if he shall have failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision in respect of the protection of the animal therefrom.”

    Placement Offence 4
    Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, S5 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild birds.

    S5(1)(a) “Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person sets in position any of the following articles, being an article which is of such a nature and is so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming into contact therewith, that is to say, any … snare, …; he shall be guilty of an offence”.

    Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, S18 Attempts to commit offences etc.

    S18(1) “Any person who attempts to commit an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Part shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable in like manner as for the said offence.”

  7. This piece of legislation may be of interest. A stink pit certainly opens up the allegation that any surrounding snares are indiscriminate because the bait will attract any meat eater.

    Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, S43 Prohibition of certain methods of capturing or killing wild animals

    S43(1) This regulation applies in relation to the capturing or killing of a wild animal—

    (a) of any of the species listed in Schedule 4 (which lists those species listed in Annex V(a) to the Habitats Directive, and to which Article 15 of that Directive applies, which have a natural range which includes any area of Great Britain); or
    (b) of a European protected species listed in Schedule 2, where the capturing or killing of such animals is permitted in accordance with these Regulations.

    (2) It is an offence to use for the purpose of capturing or killing any such wild animal—

    (c) any other means of capturing or killing which is indiscriminate and capable of causing the local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, a population of any species of animal listed in Schedule 4 or any European protected species of animal (listed in Schedule 2).


    List includes
    Bats (all species)
    Cat, Wild Felis silvestris
    Otter, Common Lutra lutra


    List includes
    Hare, Mountain Lepus timidus
    Marten, Pine Martes martes
    Polecat Mustela putorius (otherwise known as Putorius putorius)

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