By Mark Casci
ALLEGATIONS of animal cruelty at a Yorkshire estate have been strenuously denied by its managers after an animal rights organisation accused it of the “systematic slaughter of wildlife”.
Harewood House has furiously rejected claims made by the League Against Cruel Sports that it was engaged in the persecution of wildlife and was in breach of industry codes of practice.
In its War on Wildlife report, published today, the league cla
ims its investigators found more than 100 rotting animal carcasses in what it describes as a “death pit” on the estate. Among the animals found caught up in the so-called “death pit” were foxes, squirrels, pigeons and rabbits. The league claims the pit was being used as bait for foxes and other passing predators to lure them to their death.
But Christopher Ussher, resident land agent for the estate, said it was standard practice for all landowners to bury any dead animals they came across and branded the league’s allegations, which date back to autumn 2008, as “scurrilous”.
He said: “We are simply horrified that they have made these accusations. Had any allegation of malpractice been brought to my attention I would have investigated it and anyone found to be involved in it would have been disciplined in the strongest terms. All employees are issued with contracts stipulating what you can and cannot do, following the code of practice laid down by Defra.”
The league claims to have found drag snares on the estate. These are in breach of the shooting industry’s own guidelines. But Mr Ussher denied that such snares are used at Harewood, and said all game keepers are issued with clear instructions not to use them. He said he was particularly affronted following the hard work at Harewood in recent years to improve it as a wildlife habitat.