Our moors

Our uplands are internationally important habitats for wildlife. Support our campaign for an end to wildlife persecution and intensive moorland management practices.

The issue:

Our Sheffield moors are internationally protected habitats that support important local wildlife. Sadly they are under threat due to increasingly intensive moorland management for grouse shooting.

Click here for a map of Sheffield’s moorlands within our Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership area.

The future of these incredibly special local places and the biodiversity they support is in jeopardy. Intensive management practices threaten many of this landscape’s most iconic creatures and their habitats for a number of reasons, including:

  • Suspected and confirmed illegal persecution through trapping, poisoning and shooting of birds of prey
  • Increasing persecution of mountain hares, foxes, badgers etc through the excessive use of snares, traps and stink pits
  • Monoculture of heather and degradation of peat bog through extensive burning and drainage

Currently our moors are part of the South Pennine Moors SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and South Pennine Moors Phase 1 SPA (Special Protection Area) – European designations which legally protect these internationally important areas. How will these areas be protected after Brexit and what land management subsidies will be available?

A recent review by BirdLife International has found that despite these protections, the South Pennine and Peak District Moors are a globally important area for birds "in danger" - one of only two sites identified as such in the UK - meaning the threat level to important upland species there is very high and in need of immediate action to prevent them from being lost.

These issues are coming under the spotlight as the UK decides the future of wildlife protection and agricultural subsidy after Brexit. In January 2018 the government published its 25 Year Environment Plan to protect and enhance these landscapes, recognising the value of their natural capital and indicating a move towards paying land managers for public services under a new environmental land management scheme.

Please see ‘The Evidence and Reference’ section below for downloads and documents that relate to this issue.

Sign our petition calling for a ban on the use of stink pits in England: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/stinkpits

Our position:

Our uplands are wonderful ‘wild’ places but they could be much better for people and wildlife.

We want to see our moors become a fantastic mosaic of habitats supporting thriving populations of all the variety of wildlife that should live in these inspiring places. This includes birds of prey such as hen harrier and peregrine as well as moorland species such as mountain hares.

To achieve this vision we believe the following must happen now on our Sheffield moors:

  • A move away from the intensive moorland management for grouse shooting that is currently practised
  • The removal of all stink pits and a major reduction in the use of snares.
  • An end to excessive and illegal wildlife persecution
  • Greater monitoring and enforcement by Natural England and South Yorkshire Police
  • Land managers to be paid for public services that benefit people and wildlife, for example natural flood risk management measures, wildlife conservation, improving water quality and carbon storage
  • Habitat and wildlife legislation offering protection equal or greater than that currently provided through European designations

On our moors, the current practice is leading to a monoculture of heather, peat loss and grouse populations that boom and bust, requiring excessive medication and intensive wildlife persecution (eg stoats, weasels, badgers, hares) in order to sustain them. A more sustainable approach, in balance with the internationally important habitats we depend upon, working with nature, must be the future of grouse ‘farming’.

What we have done and will do:

  • Continue to work with and support landowners and managers, organisations, groups or individuals who share our aim of wanting to see an improvement in Sheffield’s moors for people and wildlife.
  • Actively work with partners through our Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership to influence and promote sustainable moorlands for people and wildlife
  • Continue to regularly update and raise awareness with the general public and our members about excessive and illegal wildlife persecution on our moors – providing factual information and examples wherever possible.
  • Monitor the use of snares and stink pits across our moors, with a particular emphasis on land adjacent to our Nature Reserves. Where possible, directly contact landowners who are using stink pits and snares excessively and/or not in accordance with good practice to raise our concerns and seek a constructive discussion. Our current focus is on the Moscar Estate due to concerns about the intensive use of snares along our Nature Reserve at Wyming Brook.
  • Actively collate and ensure any evidence of suspected wildlife crime is reported to the police. Act on any reports we receive about potential wildlife crime.
  • Promote the use of Snarewatch to the general public as a means for mapping and monitoring the ongoing use of snares and stink pits on our moors.
  • Work with the local Wildlife Crime Unit at South Yorkshire Police. Support strong enforcement of existing wildlife legislation and investment in training, better detection and policing.
  • Initiate or actively promote appropriate campaigns and petitions by others where they coincide with our own position and aims, including Hen Harrier Day.
  • Continue to manage Blacka Moor Nature Reserve as an example of good moorland management for people and wildlife.
  • Celebrate and highlight cases of good practice by local grouse moorland owners and keepers.
  • Contribute to the prevention of the illegal killing of birds of prey by participating in NESTWATCH schemes, promoting ‘sighting’ reporting and raising awareness of what to look for.
  • Continue to work with other Wildlife Trusts to influence national and regional policy makers about the importance of the upland habitat, the wildlife they support and their future post-Brexit, especially as changes to agricultural subsidies take place.
  • In April 2018 we responded to Defra's recent consultation on humane trapping standards in the UK, referencing our petition to ban stink pits.

What you can do:

  • We expect snare sites and stink pits to be at their highest levels of usage from January to May as grouse and pheasant chicks are raised. So please keep an eye out if you regularly visit the Sheffield moors. Please note it is illegal to remove or damage a snare as they are considered to be private property.
  • Snares and stink pits are legal in the UK as long as certain conditions are met (see DEFRA code of practice below), but if you believe a wildlife crime has been committed, call 101, the non-emergency number, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to give information anonymously. If you see what you believe to be a wildlife crime being committed, call 999.
  • Tell us if you see snares and stink pits adjacent to, or even, on our Nature Reserves (NB we do not use snares. Other Trusts have found snares set on their land). Contact us by email and include a picture - ideally with GPS locator and date.
  • If you see a snare or snared animal, please take a photo and report it on the Snarewatch website. This will help us to map the level of activity across the Sheffield moors area.
  • Sign our petition calling for a ban on stink pits - click here.
  • Save the date: Hen Harrier Day is on 12th August 2018 to coincide with the ‘Glorious Twelth’ - the start of the grouse shooting season. We are planning an event in Sheffield that weekend. And if you can’t make that there is also an event planned on 4 August 2018 being organised by Sheffield Environmental. Look out for more information on these events soon.
  • Write to your MP. You can find their details on the Parliament website. Tell them why our Sheffield moorlands are special to you and what you would like them to do in response to the issues our moorlands and wildlife are facing. It would also be timely to let MPs know how you feel about the future of wildlife protection and agricultural subsidy post-Brexit. For example, we want to see stronger wildlife legislation after Brexit and an environmental land managers only subsidised for public services that benefit people and wildlife, not just because they own land. If you do write and receive a reply - let us know at takeaction@wildsheffield.com.
  • Visit Blacka Moor: Our Blacka Moor nature reserve is a great example of an upland habitat mosaic, including cowsick bog, heather moorland and varied woodland - and is never managed by burning. Visit our What’s on page for events on Blacka Moor.
  • You can also help to support our work by joining us, or by making a donation to our Campaiging for Wildlife Fund.

Evidence and references:

Raptor persecution
To see more about this issue, including evidence and downloads please visit our birds of prey campaign page.

Stink pits, snares, traps and shooting
The use of snares is currently legal in England. It is worth noting that the Scottish government has brought in the licensing of snares and is currently reviewing their use - see a debate on the issue from 15 June 2017.
The reason gamekeepers control foxes, stoats, weasels etc on the Sheffield moors is because these mammals are seen as a threat to intensively rearing large numbers of young pheasant and grouse chicks - critical to ensuring a good shooting season. Arguments are also made for ‘control of these predators’ because they will take young ground-nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing.

Best practice on the use of snares can be found here and also on the sector's own websites, for example, BASC.

Of particular note are the following points (from BASC) about good practice in the use of snares:

  • Quality, not quantity
  • You must never set snares on runs where there is evidence of regular recent use by non-target species such as badgers, deer, otters, farm livestock and domestic animals, as they may be caught or injured by the snare.
  • Remove snares if there are signs of non-target animals, including their capture.

Quality not quantity?
Stink pits are fenced enclosures, bins or holes dug out by gamekeepers who then fill them with carcasses of discarded game birds, as well as other wild and domestic animals in order to attract predator species in to the snares.

Here is an example of a stink pit found on Sheffield’s moors:

Stink pits are not considered best practice. The one above had at least 12 snares within a small fenced area. Single snares were also in the vicinity. This illustrates an excessive use of snares by local gamekeepers and does not follow good practice guidance of quality over quantity.

That's why we're calling for a ban on stink pits in England. Sign our petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/stinkpits

You must never set snares on runs...
The picture below was taken near our Nature Reserves and illustrates an example of a snare set in what we believe to be a well-used badger track, with badger fur and dung both identified within the snare site. This also does not follow best practice guidance - badgers are protected by law and are a ‘non-target’ species.

Remove snares if there are signs of non-target animals….
In the photo below, taken on a nearby Sheffield moor, it appears that ‘non-target’ species are being repeatedly captured - in this case mountain hares. The current approach to managing the Sheffield moors appears to be having a significant and detrimental effect on the local mountain hare population.

Heather and peat burning
Upland areas are vitally important landscapes for people and wildlife. The combination of heather, peat and sphagnum moss means our uplands work as a huge sponge and natural water filter, cleaning over 70 percent of our drinking water and holding back vast amounts of rainwater that otherwise might contribute to flood waters that threaten our homes and businesses.

According to a 2009 report by Natural England, peat is a major carbon store, holding the vast majority of the 300 million tonnes contained within the country’s peatlands.

With 70% of the world’s heather moorland and 13% of the world’s blanket bog found in the UK it is no wonder that our uplands are internationally important and protected by national and European designations.

Research shows that heather burning on moorland can destroy sphagnum mosses, decrease diversity and population size of invertebrates in rivers draining from burned areas. It can also increase water table depth and damage underlying peat which is of great concern in regard to climate change. The same research also found that water table depth is significantly deeper in areas where heather burning has taken place. Where the water table is deeper, the surface will dry out and degrade, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.


FilenameFile size
ember_full-report.pdf7.1 MB
birdcrime-2016-appendices.pdf604.42 KB
25-year-environment-plan.pdf11.12 MB
peak_district_moors_south_pennine_moors_phase_1_spa.pdf69.83 KB
south_pennine_moors_citation.pdf28.73 KB
climate_regulation_through_carbon_storage_and_sequestration_-_ne_2009.pdf874.36 KB