Disgusting display of savagery on Yorkshire grouse moor

The following photographs were taken by Curtis Thackray on Sunday 17 February 2019.

The location was Bingley Moor, a driven grouse moor adjacent to Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire.

This disgusting display of savagery is common on many driven grouse moors. It is believed to be legal.

This is a stink pit, where gamekeepers toss their victims in a putrid pile, the stench of rotting flesh being used as a lure for other scavengers who’ll get caught in the nearby snares, brutally killed without a second thought and cast on the ever-increasing death heap.

Why? To protect the red grouse to ensure there are plenty available to shoot, for fun, later in the year.

68 thoughts on “Disgusting display of savagery on Yorkshire grouse moor”

  1. Hideous people and their doings. They have no place in modern civilised society.

    The sooner this is stopped or seriously controlled the better.


    1. I’ve sent this link to my MP who is a game bird shooter and supporter of these activities. I doubt that I will get an answer. I’m still waiting for answers from my last 3 emails. Conveniently ignored, me thinks.

      Part of my latest email: “Please comment on this article about the shooting industry you support. There are many others including fly tipping of pheasants, poisoning and shooting protected birds especially raptors. Using banned poisons that should be illegal to hold let alone use. Huge farming subsidies paid to them for this sort of behaviour.”


    1. Can’t we crowd-fund post mortems on these foxes – I suspect some have been hunted and savaged by dogs? Maybe this evidence will lead to action against the grouse moor owner?

      1. Or, perhaps, partly eaten by wild animals?

        This stink pit doesn’t even comply with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s best practice guidance in it Middens Factsheet. “The grave should be filled with fox attracting carcasses of wild animals. … this should be lightly covered, preferably with tree brash or soft rush to prevent crows/gulls and other scavengers from taking it.”. These people don’t even consider how rats, stoat etc might gain access to carcasses even with the pathetic covering they recommend.

  2. I must admit that when, re the Welsh Eagle debate , I described the English / Welsh upland Nat Parks as sheep knackered, grouse slaughtering dumps I was far too selective;
    I should have added the AONB’s and most of the uplands outside these designations.
    Of course large areas of Scotland, where unsustainable deer populations also strip biodiversity [ and the island of Ireland ] also fit the description.
    Unsustainable, publicly funded livestock farming and game shooting has to be removed before a century of encouraging biodiversity can begin to repair the devastation of recent centuries.
    The irony is that within this timeframe, climate change may well push grouse out of the uplands to extinction unfortunately.

    Keep up the pressure !

  3. There are some sick bastards out there. What kind of a fucked-up country are we that allows this to happen? I’m bloody raging – those poor foxes. These pictures need to be put up on billboards in major cities to expose these fuckers for the psychopaths they are. That will turn the tide against them.

  4. “This disgusting display of savagery is common on many driven grouse moors. It is believed to be legal.”

    [Ed: this section deleted. Please don’t make accusations of certain illegality in this specific case].

    If one of those foxes was alive then these offences were potentially committed:

    S4, Animal Welfare Act 2006, Causing unnecessary suffering;
    S9, Animal Welfare Act 2006, Failure of duty of the person responsible for animal to ensure welfare

    Back to the dumping issue …

    According to the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament “materials are simply waste or not” and materials can switch from the status of waste to non-waste or vice versa. Whilst a material or object is waste, the waste regulations and the Waste Framework Directive apply. A material or object will remain waste until it can meet by-product criteria and it can comply with all relevant product, health and safety and environmental regulations. The material or object can then be considered a by-product.

    The position of the NGO and GWCT seems to be that once the waste bodies of killed ‘vermin’ and culled deer have been collected they can automatically be used as bait – as long as the carcasses are healthy. But this is a misunderstanding of the waste regulations.

    Once a material or object has acquired the status of waste (eg the carcasses of killed deer and ‘vermin’) it can only be converted into a by-product if it passes various ‘by-product’ tests designed to protect human health and the environment from unscrupulous enterprises that are simply dumping waste or using unsuitable, potentially dangerous waste for an activity.

    Businesses intending to perform a waste treatment operation (storing, recycling, recovering (ie converting waste to a new product), disposing of waste) may need to apply for an environmental waste permit. Shooting organisations should be applying for bespoke environmental waste permits since wild animal carcasses to be used as bait is not listed as a product or material covered by the different types of permits and exemptions etc. They should be obtaining these bespoke environmental permits from the Environment Agency (EA) or Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to get permission to convert the carcasses from waste into bait to use them in stink pits. It is my bet that xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx The disposal of carcasses in stink pits without an environmental permit would be a breach of S33 and S34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

    Under S33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) it is an offence to deposit industrial or commercial waste or knowingly cause or knowingly permit such waste to be deposited in or on any land unless a waste management licence authorising the deposit is in force and the deposit is in accordance with the permit.

    The deliberate use of wild animal carcasses as bait in stink pits without an environmental permit would constitute the offence. What is particularly dangerous is the use of fox carcasses to attract foxes to the snares. The risk of spreading diseases using bait is so serious it is strictly forbidden in law for fish bait of one species to be used to lure a fish if the same species.

    S33(1)(b) prohibits a person from permitting, causing or treating industrial or commercial waste in a way that (ii) is not in accordance with an environmental permit.

    Furthermore, S33(1)(c) EPA bans the treatment, keeping or management of industrial or commercial waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. (Under S29(3)) ‘Pollution of the environment’ means pollution of the environment due to the release or escape (into land, air or water) from the land on which industrial or commercial waste is (a) treated, (b) kept or (c) deposited of substances or articles constituting or resulting from the waste and capable (by reason of the quantity or concentrations involved) of causing harm to man or any other living organisms supported by the environment.” (According to S29(5)) ” “harm” means harm to the health of living organisms (plants, animals, even single celled life forms) or other interference with the ecological systems of which they form a part. In the case of man this includes offence to any of his senses or harm to his property. “Harmless” has a corresponding meaning. Under S29(11)) “Substance” means any natural or artificial substance, whether in solid or liquid form or in the form of a gas or vapour. Clearly decaying animal carcasses have the potential to cause harm to other living organisms supported by the environment or to interfere with their associated ecological systems.

    The permanent dumping of the bodies of healthy wild animals and the regular topping up of the piles of bodies in a way that allows potentially harmful liquids and air borne bacteria from putrifying carcasses to escape into the surrounding environment breaches the terms of S33(1)(c) EPA.

    In addition, Part II, S34 of the EPA also imposes a duty on individuals who import, produce, carry, keep, treat or dispose of waste to take reasonable measures to:

    (a) Prevent any contravention by any other person of section 33 EPA; and
    to ensure that their waste is:
    (b) Stored and transported appropriately and securely so it doesn’t escape;
    (c)(i) Transported and handled by people and businesses that are authorised to do so; and
    (c)(ii) Ensure that a written description of the waste is transferred with the waste. This must be done in order to help other people avoid breaching any duty of care (under S33 of the EPA) or the terms of an environmental permit (under S38 EPR or S12(1)(a) EPR ie operate a waste treatment procedure (such as a recovery operation) without a permit when he/she should have one.)

    [Ed: the rest of this comment has been deleted. Please do not make accusations of certain illegality in this specific case]

    1. All of this is very interesting but completely academic unless put to a legal test case. Perhaps a consortium of Crowd Justice, One Kind, RSPCA etc. The images are certainly stomach churning enough to mount a crowd funding campaign.

      1. First, whoever finds a stink pit needs to report this matter to the Environment Agency or local authority to take action.

    2. Apologies. I didn’t realise I had categorically stated that there was an offence being committed here.

      (In view of your comment, please could you add ‘potentially’ before each of my comments above stating this would breach S… or this breaches…. Thanks and apologies.)

  5. This is disgusting … these people have no humanity, no regard for wildlife, psychologically blunted, you have to be short on feelings to think that any one form of life is worthless … I hope karma comes around and meters out the appropriate suffering to people who can do this …

    1. More sentimental clap trap, nothing illegal about this. Blame the Fox hunting ban. They have no natural predator and we are overrun with the ginger rats.

      1. Mr Williams’ overwhelming display of pig-ignorance (or blatant dishonesty) illustrates perfectly the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the tweed disease.

      2. OK so you claim healthy, wild animals are a bait product. Please tell me where you can buy this product because it is not sold on the internet. What price do the sellers charge for foxes, for rabbits etc etc? Who markets this product?

      3. If that is your regard for the Red fox (they are not “ginger rats”) then I feel sorry for you. I once posted a photo of a fox cub on social media and a farmer replied with “Please take this photo off the site; it is showing disrespect for the farming community”. That sort of attitude to our wildlife shows a total misunderstanding of our natural heritage. It is us Humans that have created a situation where many of our native animals, especially predators, are out of kilter, so it is up to us to try and regain the balance, and that doesn’t mean a wholesale destruction such the pictures show.

  6. These people lack any kind of empathy or conscience – there is a word for those kind of people.. the word is psychopath. There are proven links between animal cruelty and violence towards humans. They need to be xxxxx xxxxx and undergo some serious psychiatric testing, they are a xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    1. Gamekeepers are on a winner here.They have an easy means of disposing of the products of their dubious practices whilst using them to perpetuate their evil craft by luring more animals to the same fate. Let’s hope that this particularly graphic case comes to the attention of the appropriate authority. Having said this, I realise that it is such a minefield that it is not immediately apparent, at least not to me, who that body might be. Would the investigation of this issue fall within the terms of reference of WILDjustice? If so, I’ve no doubt that voluntary funding would be readily forthcoming. If not, does anyone know where we should go next? I’m wondering whether it might be the Health and Safety Executive. Maybe writing to our MPs might be one way into the mire. I’ve no doubt that the vast majority of them would be shocked to know that this carnage is permitted in the midst of a supposedly civilised society.

      1. The Environment Agency and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency administer the permits and exemptions but local authorities often deal with fly tipping.

  7. I don’t know much about the Environmental Protection regulations but if it is as Lizzy states and One has no reason to doubt that it may indeed be worth a legal challenge. I all the years( and there are many) I have frequented moors I have never found a stink pit although I know of them. The images are certainly very disturbing and as we already know exhibit a complete lack of regard or respect for the animals killed. That in itself is very worrying and completely against any hunting ethos. If this does end in court it would be somewhat ironic as at least one of those involved in the xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    1. Before any legal challenge could be made, a good case would have to be reported to the appropriate authorities and no action taken. The person or organisation taking any legal challenge would have to have a direct interest in the case. (The Raven case was taken up by the local Raven study group.) So, as far as I know, there is currently no suitable case to take up a legal challenge with

  8. As every one is saying, this is appalling beyond description.

    Has it been reported to the Environment Agency, the police and the RSPCA with a view to seeing what they can and/or will do about it?

  9. Surely the top priority (over and above issues of illegality) is to get these kind of photos out on social media and seen by as many people as possible – MPs, journalists, the general public and, above all, young people. Most of the young people I come into contact with (unless they have farming or landowning connections) are utterly disgusted by animal abuse of this sort. I have no doubt that we could have school strikes and protests against blood sports if only more people knew and saw evidence of what really goes on.
    There must be tech-savvy people out there who know what it takes to get photos and videos seen by huge numbers of people, even if it means linking these revolting shots with cute pictures of cuddly-looking foxes and bunnies. Whatever it takes, we really should make every effort to publicise the true nature of ‘real country people’.

  10. Billboard idea gets my vote, get these images out there, twenty foot by ten in full colour , 90% of the populous don’t have a clue this is going on. Would have a shocking impact. Get the crowd funding started !

    1. Or, as I have suggested in the past, adverts in national newspapers, preferably in the tabloids, bringing the issue directly into the minds of millions. Or even better, televised adverts displaying the carnage in our countryside.

        1. Who knows? Considering the time and effort put in by the Investigations team, it is astonishing that the wider society appears to be content with the way things are going, and that the majority of the membership appears to be disinterested in the ongoing slaughter, or even ignorant of the situation.

          Progress on all fronts still seems to be painfully slow, and I can’t help but think that some hard-hitting advertisements in the tabloids, or on national television, would really bring the subject into the mainstream. We simply cannot rely on the status quo, because it is clearly not working, so perhaps a fresh approach is required, and a move away from the garden wildlife advertisements might be needed.

  11. I can’t add much to the expressions of disgust and outrage already noted here. I am once again taken aback by the way humans treat their wild kin and disrespect this fragile environment upon which we all depend.

  12. I would invite readers to check out the questionnaires on p17 and p21 of Guidance on the legal definition of waste and it’s application, august 2012 (government publication) and make their minds up as to whether some animals in stink pits (particularly ones which are skeletons) are waste or are they a genuine, marketable product of bait subject to pricing structures and general product regulations such as use by dates?

    Another useful government website is:

    Decide if a material is waste or not: general guide (updated version of part 2 of original full document) – GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/legal-definition-of-waste-guidance/decide-if-a-material-is-waste-or-not#decide-if-your-material-is-waste

  13. The savages who commit these atrocities will never cease until physically stopped…mentioning outrage and disgust on the internet will NEVER change a thing. These poor abused creatures belong to all of us and as such we have a duty to prevent further harm….

  14. This is disgusting. Some human beings inflict the most horrific destruction of living creatures in the name of ‘sport’ in perpetuating their privilege.

  15. Thank goodness xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx have at least been kicked off Ilkley Moor (publicly owned land) just to the north. Thanks to a strong campaign by local people and the backing of John Grogan, MP.

    1. I believe it was the same group of ” sportsmen” that lost the right to kill grouse on Ilkley Moor that have the sporting rights on Bingley.

  16. We are living in fast changing times and each post of vile activity, such the photos show, will add yet another nail – ready to be hammered into the game shooting industry’s coffin. The people who perform such acts, and all those people involved in the shooting of the very birds that this activity purports to be protecting, ought to be totally ashamed of themselves. Bring on a Government party that is willing to rid the UK of its evil Victorian attitudes.

  17. Can see them on google earth on the local moor! Found 14 of them from satellite imagery, but of course, there could be more.

  18. It pleases me that so many responses have been received from people who care about the fate of our predatory and scavenging wildlife. However not everything in the naturalist’s diary is laudable. On first joining my local Raptor Study Group I was naively shocked to find that some of the group’s members were in favour of gamekeepers killing foxes, and sometimes stoats, in order to help harriers survive. They could not apparently see the contradiction where foxes are naturally taking an annual proportion of the harrier productivity, while the very ‘keepers they praised for killing foxes were themselves the greatest threat to the survival of the harriers! Sadly this hypocrisy still prevails in the minds of a small proportion of RSG members who are still supportive of this activity, although RPUK, Mark Avery, Chris Packham and their supporters seem to have generated sufficient awareness to produce a more enlightened view of management requirements (and I wouldn’t include predator control in that process). This change in understanding the nature of killing one species to ‘save’ another, and the lack of any need for ornithologists or naturalists to pick up their shotguns to ‘control’ certain native species is progress in the name of civilisation, and it should be understood that the need for such culling is unnecessary. I would suggest that such a raising of awareness could lead to a reduction in Man’s overall tendency for violence towards harmless wildlife species, possibly extending to an overall reduction in violence towards fellow humans. It should be one step away from our rather less civilised past. I also have to remind myself that the killing we hear about in the media, including RPUK, is a very small tip of a very large uncontrolled iceberg. We need to up the anti and end the continuing slaughter as soon as possible. By no means an easy task, but one which we should take seriously as part of the greater effort to restore a balanced and natural ecosystem for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

  19. Dont forget the many “merlin workers” who turn a blind eye so long as they selfishly retain access permissions

  20. I’m surprise this blog has not commented, on a story in Friday’s Guardian, regarding Natural England, which “has issued licences to destroy 170,000 wild birds, eggs and nests, including rare and declining species such as curlews and swifts, in the past five years”.

    “Natural England has given permission to kill birds of more than 70 species, or have their nests and eggs destroyed. These include peregrine falcons, barn owls, buzzards and red kites, alongside garden favourites such as robins, blackbirds and blue tits. A licence was even issued to destroy a wrens’ nest to “preserve public safety” in South Yorkshire”.

    The most targeted species was Greylags “with licences issued to kill 67,586 individual geese or destroy their eggs or nests”.

    Next up were 21,939 mallards!

    “Cormorants were targeted by more licences than any other bird, with more than 2,000 licences issued – mainly to angling and fishing interests – to kill 12,033 birds.”

    “Licences were granted permitting the destruction of up to 854 curlews and their eggs or nests.”

    “Between 2014 and 2018, Natural England also issued licences against 329 buzzards, 223 kestrels and 44 red kites.”

    “Some of the licences are issued to conservation charities which seek to control some protected species to protect others. Scientists also apply for licences when undertaking research.”

    The piece quoted Jason Endfield, “One of my real concerns is whether Natural England follow up on these licences. The people who apply for these licences are supposed to report back but who is checking these things? It seems really badly organised.

    “If there’s a genuine concern over air safety then obviously there has to be something in place when absolutely every other avenue [of non-lethal control] has been explored but issuing so many licences shows it has got completely out of hand.”

    1. This is a reply I received about how many licenses were rejected over the last five years to prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock or fisheries.

      “Since 2014 there have been 10 bird licences refused for preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock or fisheries. These were not then reapplied for by the original applicant.

      I have not been able to find any other bird licences refused for the other purposes.

      Many thanks,

      Kieren Jones | Licensing Officer – Wildlife Management Scottish Natural Heritage |Great Glen House | Inverness | IV3 8NW |

      1. As is said above, the Guardian FoI was to Natural England. So far as SNH is concerned, the number of refusals is interesting but how many did the accept!

  21. Just beyond revolting. Action needs to be taken on these people. I am getting pretty sick of how creatures are getting treated.

  22. Wow…. the human race is a cancer upon this planet and all those on human species that we should be sharing the planet with. I’m lost for words.

  23. This is disgusting!!! We are supposed to be a civilized nation ~ something needs to be done urgently to put a stop to this!!!

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