HIT 2017 Investigation – Press Release:
Daily cruel wildlife persecution uncovered in the Peak District National Park
Badgers, foxes and mountain hares suffering in archaic snares within the iconic Peak District National Park were the devastating scenes faced by investigators from the Hunt Investigation Team, according to a new report launched in the Mirror and to be reported on the BBC – Tues 11th July 2017:
Acting upon reports of illegal badger persecution in the Peak District National Park, the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) launched an operation on the Moscar Estate, a driven grouse shooting estate owned by the Duke of Rutland.
The HIT conducted covert surveillance throughout spring 2017, monitoring the Estate’s snare and trap sites located throughout the National Park. This revealed systematic programme of wildlife persecution, which intentionally targeted iconic species on popular open access moorland and in the vicinity of celebrated nature reserves. The whole regime is conducted to ensure artificially high numbers of grouse are available to be shot for “sport” during the autumn months.
See HIT’s own summary video – raw footage available to the media upon request:
An estimated 400 wire snares are set across the estate, in addition to a variety of traps to catch mammals and birds. These were found close to Stanage and Bamford Edges, Ladybower and Redmires Reservoirs and on the boundaries of Wyming Brook SSSI and Fox Hagg Nature Reserve. Masked gunmen – the Estate’s gamekeepers – were filmed patrolling the sites daily, eliminating wildlife. The area is active badger and mountain hare territory: many fall victim to the regime. The area is also immensely popular with visitors: most are unaware of the devastation. Numerous unregulated bird and mammal traps are placed on the immediate boundaries of nature reserves: calculated to attract the many species concentrated in these supposedly protected areas.
One snare site – directly below Bamford Edge – was monitored closely over a four week period. This was just one of the many snare sites, on one of the many grouse moors, within the National Park. It offers a snapshot of snare site activity: these scenes are no doubt replicated on similar sites throughout the Estate. During the four weeks, two badgers, one mountain hare, one fox and three lambs were found caught. Wildlife endured terrible physical and mental suffering in snares. Fortunately, HIT investigators were able to release the lambs unharmed.
One badger was shot and hastily dragged off to be buried in a nearby wood. A second badger was caught overnight and endured a prolonged capture and botched release, which resulted in being snared a second time and finally escaping wounded and with snares apparently still around her neck. Her injuries and stress mean that she most likely died afterwards. A female mountain hare was found prone, wailing and dying in a snare. A veterinary post mortem found that she died from internal bleeding and stress. A fox struggled frantically to free itself before being shot three times upon the gamekeeper’s eventual arrival. If these animals had dependent young, they will probably have died of starvation.
Carcasses were thrown into "stink pits" at other snare sites, to draw in other wildlife to suffer the same fate. The gunmen continue to set snares on areas with a high rate of badger capture. There is evidence of five badger captures on the Bamford site.
Tax payers subsidise the industry: through substantial agricultural payments made to the wealthy Moscar Estate owners (over £2 million in the past 10 years); contributing to the cost of gun licences (£120 of the total £200 cost of each application); and bearing the expense of additional water filtration caused by ecological damage to the moorland. The general public also lose out on access to precious wild spaces and wildlife.
The driven grouse shooting season will commence on August 12th. Conservationists and the general public have already condemned its cruel and destructive practices. The HIT will build on this in 2017 by demanding an end to snaring on the Moscar Estate and an end to driven grouse shooting.
Tanya Hall of the Hunt Investigation Team said: “The cruel decimation of wildlife is perpetrated daily in one of the most popular tourist areas of the UK. The immense suffering of badgers, foxes and hares that our investigators found is inflicted simply so that the Duke of Rutland’s Estate has plenty of grouse available to shoot. We must end this cycle of violence and cruelty and we encourage the public to add their support to our campaign."
Derbyshire Police are now investigating.
For more information, photographs and videos, contact:
Tanya Hall, 07562314444, huntinvestigationteam
NOTES TO EDITOR
Hunt Investigation Team: The HIT was formed in 2016, following their expose of the South Herefordshire Hunt. The fox hunt staff were filmed apparently throwing a supply of live fox cubs to their baying kennelled hounds. The cubs’ lifeless bodies were then retrieved from the kennel’s bins. The South Herefordshire Hunt remains suspended with five core members of staff on police bail.
Duke of Rutland: David Charles Robert Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland, lives at theancestral home of Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. Also Master and Owner of Belvoir Fox Hounds. The Sunday Times Rich List 2013 estimated his personal fortune at £125m. The Duke is a high-profile supporter of UKIP and in 1999 stood for the party when the House of Lords elected 92 hereditary peers. He took over the Moscar Estate in 2016 and the gamekeepers work for him.
Peak District National Park: The Peak District National Park’s primary stated aim is to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Peak District". The HIT’s investigation into the Moscar Estate adds to the growing body of damning evidence against driven grouse shooting and questions its compatibility with the National Park’s duty and objectives.
Moscar Estate: Covered previouslyby the BBC on the same snare site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32503789
Snares: Snares are legal in only four European countries – the UK, Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Latvia. All other European countries have banned them due to the horrific suffering they inflict. The HIT’s operation mirrored DEFRA’s own research in 2012 in finding that no snare site visited was fully compliant with legislation and guidance on their use. The law is unregulated and unenforceable. On the Moscar Estate, HIT found
- snares re-set on runs frequented by badgers; snares set close to areas on or near active badger setts;
- snares repeatedly set low to the ground in order to capture non-target species;
- snares capturing an otherwise iconic mountain hare;
- "free-running" snares becoming "self-locking" when an animal struggles, causing horrific injuries;
- snares set over sleep downward slopes which could cause strangulation of a captured animal;
- snares set with branches which cause entanglement;
- use of rusty snares.
77% of the British public think snares should be illegal (Ipsos MORI, 2014)
68% of MPs also support a ban on snares (Dods poll, 2015)
English MPs debated snaring in the House of Commons in July 2016, and voted for a ban. The government ignored the vote and instead published a new Code of Practice. This was drawn up by the shooting industry – the very people who use snares the most and routinely disregard its guidance.
Fenn traps: These were internationally condemned in 2016 by the fur industry itself, due to an acknowledgement that they are inhumane. Hundreds of Fenn traps line the walls and gullies of the higher moors.
Biodiversity/Protection of ground nesting birds:The shooting lobby takes credit for the conservation of a small number of ground nesting species, and lauds this as biodiversity. This is selective conservation at best, and a distraction from the mass persecution of other species. The draining and burning of the moors is to sustain a heather-based habitat to accommodate primarily grouse and secondarily curlews comes at the cost of numerous other species which cannot thrive in such a sterile environment.
Whilst the decline of birds such as curlews, lapwings and golden plover is acknowledged (Monbiot, Feral 2013: 158) the primary cause is farming practices. The solution is to address these damaging practices, not to strip the uplands of other native wildlife in order to facilitate birds which do not threaten grouse moor profits.
Grouse moor estates take advantage of the few species which can tolerate their barren heather habitat without compromising grouse stocks and laud them as conservation achievements. This is a cynical distraction from reality and the public should not be fooled.Hunt Investigation Team
With best wishes,
Hunt Investigation Team
BM Box 2975, London, WC1N 3XX.
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ManchesterHuntSabs
You can also donate using the link on our web page – www.nwhsa.org.uk
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports