To see more about this issue, including evidence and downloads please visit our birds of prey campaign.
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.
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 calling for a ban on stink pits – link coming soon.
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.