The Estate gamekeepers utilise a range of widlife traps in order to eliminate any species which may compromise the grouse stocks. Here are some of the traps which are used routinely in the Peak District National Park. Join the HIT in monitoring their use for illegality and demanding their removal. Maps available here: Individual Trap Site Details
Snares are banned in the majority of European countries, as they are known to be indiscriminate and to cause intolerable suffering. Despite this, they remain legal in the UK and are used widely on the Moscar Estate, routinely catching badgers, mountain hares, foxes and even dogs and runners. The HIT found that snares that were set as “free-running” became locked as captured animals struggled to escape and the wires got warped. Breakaway mechanisms which are claimed to allow non-target species to escape failed. Snares were repeatedly set in areas of known badger presence. None of the snare sites the HIT monitored were fully compliant with animal welfare legislation or guidance.
There are snare sites on open access moorland below Bamford Edge (SK203851 – follow the pylon line – snares across moorland in around enclosed stink pit), close to Cutthroat Bridge (SK213868 – snares within enclosed small woodland off the track), close to Wyming Brook SSSI (SK267861 – snares within small fenced area due west of woodland strip), Bole Hill (SK219842 – snares within fenced off copse at the gully top), Dennis Knoll (SK225843 – snares around sunken stink bins on moorland, approx 160 paces over the fence due west from the car park), Oaking Clough (SK250872), Grainfoot Clough (SK195879 – snares set on southern bank of stream) and Ladybower Reservoir (SK195874- snares in fenced off area 200m south of Lodge Cote). There are also snare sites reported on private land which is known badger territory. These include High Lees Farm (SK213839 and SK213837) and Stanage Lodge (SK247847 – snares in a fenced of patch of rhodedendrons along the stream and SK248852 – snares in another fenced of patch of rhodendrons due east of the lake, between dry stone walls). Please let us know your findings.
Please note, there are doubtless many more sites across the estate and throughout the national park. Snare sites may be used for a few months a year or for the whole year – sites may become inactive for a time, and it important to keep checking for changes. Key features which may indicate the presence of a snare site are listed below:
- Access points: Snare sites usually start within walking distance of a gate which is reached by vehicle, on the moorland/farmland fringe. They are rarely a long way onto the moor because the keeper needs to access them easily each day. Look for well defined vehicle tracks which come to a stop shortly into the moor.
- “Moorland fringe” – This is the rough boundary where the moor (heathery and often open access) meets farmland (often grassy and private). By controlling the fringe, the keepers act as “gatekeepers” to the moor, controlling who/what can live up there.
- Gullies and Scrub: Keepers will often use the cover of thin woodland to hide a snare site/stink pit, particularly where this features along with a brook, which is the mammals’ water supply. If the wood is fenced off, it is particularly likely. Look on an OS map where the gullies come down off the moor to the fringe. If there is access and any woodland, it is highly worth walking up both sides to check.
- Fencing: Snare sites will often be barbed-wire fenced, with channels opened up around the perimeter for animals to be drawn in (to the central stink bin). Any small fenced off area, particularly with the channels, is highly suspect.
- Rhodedendrons: Favoured by keepers since the Victorian times and a high chance of concealing snares. Often channelled out and lined with snares in a labyrinth towards the stink pit. Truly horrifying to follow round – there may be upto 50 snares in the circuit. Either within other woodland, or fenced off separately on the moor.
- Infrastructure: Snares are often held in by sturdy metal stakes which anchor them to the ground. Even when snares are inactive, the rusty stakes approx 30cm high are often left in along the pathway.
- Nature reserves: Keepers have been known to place snares, badger traps, corvid and raptor traps on the boundaries of nature reserves, as the high populations of wildlife may predate on grouse stocks.
- Stink pits/bins: A bin or bag full of rotting carcassess may remain, even when snares are inactive. Uncovered carcasses may also be strewn.
- Open channels through heather: Not all snare sites are enclosed. Some large sites run across the moorland, in clearly cut channels through the heather.
- Badger setts: Sadly, it is necessary to check the vicinity of badger setts because they are often targetted. Worth checking for snares and cage traps, which may be concealed along dry stone walls under scrub.
Large Mammal Traps:
Numerous large mammal traps are crudely disguised on moorland and farmland around the Estate. Many are sited on active badger territory and there is evidence of badger capture at a trap where a fired gun cartridge was also found. Landowners could be complicit in the persecution of badgers, dispelling the myth of rogue gamekeepers breaking the law in isolation. Large mammal traps were observed at Fox Hagg Farm (SK288868), Lawns Farm (SK286870), Wyming Brook Farm (SK270858), Redmires Reservoir (SK260859), Brown Edge Farm (SK277842), Overstones Farm (SK246827) and below Stanage Edge (SK235837). There are many more: please report your findings to the HIT.
Fenn traps were internationally condemned in 2016. Yet they are littered along the dry stone walls and across the gullies of the moorland: the “corridors” that small mammals use to move around their territory. They kill numerous weasels, stoats and other small animals living on and around the moors, often just meters from where visitors walk.
A range of traps are deployed to capture the native birds of the Peak District. They are ostensibly used to catch corvids such as jays, magpies and crows but can just as easily catch raptors such as buzzards, Hen Harriers, kestrels, Peregrine Falcons and also owls. All bird species suffer terribly in these traps: unable to fly, roost or socialise normally and often tormented by other predators outside the trap. The birds are killed and their bodies added to “stink pits” which attract predators in to be slaughtered.
Ladder traps have been set near to Redmires Reservoir (SK265860) and at Hollow Meadows (SK2288881 – sited on western frings of wood) amongst others. Clam and Larsen traps were observed at all snare and large mammal trap sites, frequently moved around by the gamekeepers and baited either with live birds, eggs or carrion.
The picture below shows a jay trapped in a Larsen trap at Fox Hagg Farm & Campsite in the Rivelin Valley. Its distress calls attract other birds into the Clam trap next to it, which snaps violently shut on its victim until dispatched by the gamekeeper. The “call bird” may endure many weeks stuck in the trap and its young will almost certainly die left unattended in the nest. The use of jays as call birds is outlawed in Scotland, as they are known to attract raptors. This calls into question the Moscar Estate gamekeeper’s intentions.
These animal and bird traps are part of a wholesale, systematic programme of unregulated wildlife persecution. Hundreds of native animals and birds suffer and die in them each year. This is all so that the Estate owners can rear and protect artifically high numbers of grouse – which are shot in their thousands from August – December by a wealthy minority of bloodsports enthusiasts.
Gamekeepers present their activity as responsible custodianship of the coutryside. The shooting lobby takes credit for the conservation of a small number of ground nesting species such as lapwings and curlews and lauds this as biodiversity.
This is selective conservation at best and a distraction from the mass persecution of other species. Gamekeepers drain and burn the moors to sustain a heather-based habitat to accommodate primarily grouse and consequently birds such as curlews. Curlews and lapwings give a convenient excuse for the estate’s to continue mismanaging the uplands. The land management practices comes at the cost of numerous other species which cannot thrive in such a sterile environment.
Whilst we all acknowledge and care about the decline of birds such as curlews, lapwings and golden plover, the primary cause of their fate is bad farming practices. The solution is to address these damaging practices, not to strip the uplands of other native wildlife to create a barren new habitat.
The scale of persecution in the Peak District National Park has never before been revealed. Join us in demanding an end to this slaughter.