The killing of wildlife on driven grouse moors is a relentless, year-round slaughter, carried out to ensure high stocks of red grouse are available for recreational shooting. The number of animals killed is unknown as there is no statutory requirement for reporting, but the annual toll on predators must number in the hundreds of thousands, at least.
With reports of red grouse densities on some driven grouse moors being as high as 200-500 birds/km2, these excessively and artificially high densities can only be sustained by a consistently high level of lethal predator control of birds and mammals
Thousands of snares and traps litter Scotland's countryside and just like landmines, they indiscriminately kill, maim and wound our wildlife. Animals like crows, foxes, stoats and weasels are ruthlessly eradicated.
Traps & snares on Scotland's grouse moors
Spring traps exist primarily to catch weasels and stoats, who are seen as pests that affect grouse numbers, and they are often seen set across burns surrounded by a small cage or tunnel. This form cover is a legal requirement to stop non-target species from entering but non-target species may still be wounded or killed, particularly if regulation is not adhered to. Spring traps are one of the most commonly used traps in Scotland used throughout the year.
There is no legal requirement to check these traps every 24 hours as the intent is to kill rather than to trap and kill afterwards. If the animal is not killed by the trap instantly it may suffer unimaginable pain that can last a long time.
Pole traps are illegal spring traps set in an elevated position with the intention of catching birds of prey, and are usually bated with dead animals. However, some land managers have continued to use them to target raptors with the aim of protecting grouse for recreational shooting.
Pole traps are extremely cruel, often shattering the legs of trapped birds and leave them hanging and struggling, unable to fly away and suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.
Cage traps are bated with live birds with food and are designed to lure crows which are perceived to be a threat to the grouse. Land managers are concerned that the crows will prey on chicks and eggs, limiting the amount of red grouse that can be shot for fun.
Crows are territorial and will come in to challenge the bird to take the food. Birds are held inside the trap until the cage is checked, which should be every 24 hours to comply with the law. The operator who checks the trap will kill all birds inside apart from the decoy bird, usually by bludgeoning or striking against a hard surface. When there are a lot of birds trapped this can take a significant amount of time, and inevitably causes the birds to suffer.
There are many welfare concerns associated with such traps for the decoy birds as well as those targeted for death. Decoy birds may be mutilated to stop escape through clipped wings and tail feathers and there are concerns about the psychological impact of captivity on these animals.
Stink pits consist of piles of rotting animal carcasses (including the corpses of native wildlife and sometimes domestic pets) that are dumped in a heap and surrounded by snares.
The putrefying stench from the corpses attracts near by predators to the pit which are then caught in the snares, killed, and thrown on to the stink pit.
Snares are anchored loops of wire or steel cable designed to catch foxes, hares or rabbits around the neck and restrain them until the operator comes to kill them. There are numerous welfare concerns associated with snares, even when set properly and legally. They legally have to be checked every 24 hours. Animals who are caught naturally panic and suffer when trying to free themselves and may cause significant injuries to the animals for many hours before they are ultimately killed.
Snares have long since been known to inflict extreme mental and physical suffering on captures animals, and recent legislation has not reduced this to any acceptable level.
Snares capture a wide range of non-target animals, including protected species such as badgers and otters, as well as dogs and cats.
Snares capture lactating and pregnant animals or juveniles, including within populations of protected species that may be adversely affected by the use of non-selective traps.