In order to keep red grouse numbers as artificially high as possible for commercial shooting, gamekeepers routinely set cruel and antiquated, though legal, traps on estates to trap predators to the red grouseOneKind is calling for an end to the killing of wildlife on grouse moors and elsewhere in Scotland
The intensive management of Scotland’s driven grouse moors is killing Scotland’s beautiful wildlife.
Around 1/5 of upland Scotland is used for driven grouse shooting. In order to keep red grouse numbers as artificially high as possible for commercial shooting, gamekeepers routinely set cruel and antiquated, though legal, traps on estates to trap predators to the red grouse. Although these traps are targeted towards the red grouse predators, such as foxes and stoats, these traps are indiscriminate and can cause suffering to non-target species, such as companion dogs, cats and badgers, too.
OneKind is calling for an end to the killing of wildlife on grouse moors and elsewhere in Scotland.
Types of traps
Tens of thousands of Scotland’s animals are being killed on grouse moors each year. Gamekeepers routinely use a selection of cruel traps that inflict mental and physical suffering on the animals caught in them. The method of trapping and killing varies dependent on species.
OneKind has long campaigned for a ban on the sale, manufacture and use of snares in Scotland. A snare is a simple anchored noose, that traps an animal either by its leg, abdomen or neck. It inflicts considerable mental and physical suffering. In addition to the considerable mental distress caused, struggling against the snare can cause it to twist and tighten, leading to injury or death. Some foxes and badgers attempt to chew through the wire, damaging their mouths and fraying the wire so that the snare tangles and effectively becomes self-locking. If caught around the abdomen instead of the neck, the animal may suffer deep wounds and internal organ damage.
Spring traps are essentially larger and more powerful mouse traps that target stoats and weasels, to prevent them from predation on grouse eggs and chicks. They are placed on routes likely to be used by these animals, frequently on logs across streams.
Upon catching an animal, they spring shut with enough force to hold, crush and kill the trapped animal. Newer designs have a higher accuracy rate; they generally hit the skull resulting in immediate death, which is the only practical measure of humaneness. Older designs, such as the Fenn trap, aim to break the spine but can easily catch a different part of the body, resulting in an agonisingly slow death.
Crow cage traps
Crow cage traps are used to catch birds, primarily crows. Gamekeepers claim its necessary to use these traps to prevent predation on grouse eggs and chicks.
Large multi-catch cage traps have a wooden frame and wire mesh walls. There will usually be a live ‘decoy’ bird, often a magpie, and a food lure inside. Corvids are territorial and will come to challenge the intruder and take the food. They enter the cage either via a funnel or through the horizontal slats of a ladder in the roof. Both are designed to be easy to enter but difficult or impossible to leave.
Smaller portable Larsen traps placed on the ground can also have a ‘decoy’ bird, in this case in a separate compartment, and a food lure, but they are designed to catch only one other bird. Larsen traps are made of wire and hinged along the bottom so that they open like a shell. They are held open by a false perch which gives way when the bird lands on it, causing the bird to fall through and the trap to close.
There are obvious welfare concerns about the psychological effects of sudden capture on wild birds, and of being in close confinement with other territorial individuals; there are often instances of aggression between birds in the same cage. Birds can also be injured when entering the traps or when trying to escape and can suffer from hunger, thirst, exposure and predation while in the trap.
To lure foxes into snares, gamekeepers often lay snares around a ‘stink pit’: a place where the gamekeepers dump rotting animal carcasses. The smell of decomposing animals lures the foxes towards the dead animals, where they are then caught in the snares surrounding the pit. During our work in the field we have discovered foxes, deer, geese and fish in stink pits.
What is OneKind doing?
OneKind have long-campaigned for a complete ban on the sale, use and manufacture of snares in Scotland. Our notable successes so far include:
- In 2008, as Advocates for Animals, we held a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament calling for an end to snaring.
- In 2011, we launched our website SnareWatch– an information-sharing and reporting facility about snaring in the UK.
- In Autumn 2016, OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland published a major report Cruel and Indiscriminate: Why Scotland must become snare-free into the use of snares in Scotland and the impact they have on animal welfare.
- In 2016, we released a SnareWatch briefing that summarised our reports and key findings from five years of operating our SnareWatch website.
- In September 2016, over 7500 people signed an open letter to the Scottish Government calling for a ban on snares. We handed it into Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.
- In March 2017, we welcomed the decision by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to stop issuing licences for snaring mountain hares that has effectively ended this cruel practice.
- In January 2017, we launched an e-action asking our supporters to email their MSPs and ask them to support a Snare Free Scotland. Over 10,000 emails were sent to politicians during the campaign.
- We have continued to lobby politicians to support a ban on snares in Scotland, including producing Snare Free Scotland briefings for MSPs ahead of debates in the Scottish Parliament.
- In May 2018, we released shocking footage which showed a stink pit and snares set on a Scottish grouse moor known for mountain hare culls.
- In OneKind Director, Bob Elliot, was interviewed in Chris Packham’s documentary film exposing the grim reality associated with driven grouse shooting and filmed at Leadhills Estate.
- In October 2019 our parliamentary petition calling for an end to the killings of Scotland’s wildlife went live. The Public Petitions Committee passed the petition through to the Scottish Government for consideration.
- In December 2019, we released our joint report, ‘Untold Suffering’, the League Against Cruel Sports and Revive. The report details the suffering of untold thousands of animals across Scotland’s driven grouse moors and we are in the process of sending this to MSPs. You can read the report here.
What do I do if I find a trap?
If there is a live animal in the trap, call the relevant animal charity. We do not advise trying to release an animal yourself as the animal could be injured and require medical attention.
Scotland – Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline 03000 999 999
England and Wales – RSPCA Cruelty line 0300 1234 999
Northern Ireland – USPCA Animal Information Line 028 3025 1000
If you suspect the trap is illegal, call the Police on 101
Always report traps or trapping incidents to OneKind. Please also try and take photographs of any traps/trapped animals you find and the surrounding area. You can report this via our website www.snarewatch.org, email us at email@example.com, or via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/SnareWatch/ We can advise you on next steps and your report will help us understand and communicate the problems snares cause.
How can I help?
Thank you for your interest in helping us to end the killings of wildlife on grouse moors and elsewhere in Scotland! We really are stronger in numbers. Here’s a couple of easy ways that you can help:
- Sign our petition calling on the Scottish Government to end the killing of wildlife on grouse moors and elsewhere in Scotland here.
- Share our campaign with your friends and family and across your social media channels, to help us to raise public awareness about the untold suffering of animals on grouse moors.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, to keep up-to-date with our campaign!