Men plead guilty to poaching grouse in North Yorkshire

Three men pleaded guilty in Teesside Magistrates Court on 7 August 2023, charged with a number of poaching offences.

The men were searched by police on moorland near Lockwood Beck in the North York Moors National Park on 29 January 2023 after a tip-off. Cleveland Police said:

“Officers immediately attended the area and detained the three men on suspicion of poaching offences.

A search was conducted by the officers and a firearm was located along with a number of shot grouse. All three were later interviewed in relation to the incident.”

The men were ordered to pay small amounts: one was fined £150 and ordered to pay £520 in compensation; another was fined £333 and ordered to pay £520 in compensation; and the third was fined £100 and ordered to pay £540 in compensation. The three are also required to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.


Protect the Wild emailed Cleveland Police for more clarity on the poaching offences, but they haven’t replied.

On their website, however, Lancashire Police provide the following information on the laws on the poaching of birds and mammals:

“Day poaching

Under section 30 of the Game Act 1831 it is an offence for any person to trespass in the daytime by entering or being upon any land in search or pursuit of game, woodcock, snipe or rabbits. Daytime is one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Trespass means a physical entry by a person onto land without permission. For the purposes of poaching law a person shooting or sending a dog from the public road or footpath is a trespasser…

The trespassing on land with dogs to hunt game is an unlawful act under the Hunting Act 2004.

Night poaching

Under the Night Poaching Act 1828 it is an offence at night to unlawfully take or destroy any game or rabbits on any land, open or enclosed, this includes public roads, paths and verges. Night is one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

It is an offence to enter or be on any land, with any gun, net engine (snare) or other instrument (lamp, slip lead) for the purpose of taking game. The use of a light to take game birds is an offence under section 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981….

The trespassing on land with dogs to hunt game is an unlawful act under the Hunting Act 2004.”


As we explain on our Protectors page on Trespassing and the Law, trespassing means “entering – or putting property on – land that belongs to someone else without their permission“. Poaching is essentially trespassing to take or kill a wild animal.

As you can see above, the laws for day and night poaching are slightly different: under day poaching legislation, destroying a mammal or bird on the public highway isn’t included in the wording of the Game Act. But the British Association for Shooting and Conservation states:

“For daytime trespass, it is now reasonably well established that a poacher can no longer seek the protection of the public highway, footpath or other right of way as a means to poach either there or on adjacent land.”

Shooting estates are the biggest criminals

Although Protect the Wild finds poaching abhorrent, the acts of these three men pale in comparison to the gruesome acts carried out by shooting estates across the UK. The shooting industry began its grouse shooting season on 12 August (the ‘Inglorious 12th’). Affluent estates sell hundreds of thousands of Red Grouse to wealthy shooters to kill, and it’s estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 grouse are murdered annually. On top of this, natural predators of grouse, such as foxes, are killed in huge numbers in snares and traps, while birds of prey are purposefully poisoned, all to ensure that the grouse are a live commodity for shooters.

The shooting industry needs to be shut down for good. We think together we can make that happen. Read how here.