Grouse sitting on frosty grass

National Trust bans grouse shooting from a Peak District estate

The National Trust has announced it’s banning grouse shooting from 1,600 acres of its land in the Peak District. And it comes after the charity voiced concerns over the shooting industry’s “management techniques”.

On 3 March, Sheffield paper The Star reported that the National Trust had chosen not to renew its relationship with the shooting industry at Park Hall estate. Park Hall estate’s land, located off the Snake Pass in High Peak, near Glossop, was managed by Hurst and Chunel Estate for shooting grouse. The charity made the decision in December 2022, and it told The Star that:

“The aims of the shoot tenant did not align with the National Trust’s ambitions of caring for the nature, beauty, and history of the Peak District.”

It added that the charity had “concerns over the management techniques” that the shoot tenant used.

Moorland Monitors, who have previously surveyed Park Hall estate, told Protect the Wild that the estate has “so much history” of wildlife persecution and been “shameless” about the matter. The group posted a video in March 2022 highlighting some of what it had found. And it told Protect the Wild that the key to fighting the type of cruelty perpetrated by Park Hall is to “monitor, monitor, monitor” the landscape.

Meanwhile, raptor expert Ruth Tingay wrote on Raptor Persecution UK that she believes the National Trust’s decision to end and ban grouse shooting at the estate deserved “much applause”.

Grouse shooting and rat poison

The National Trust’s concern with Park Hall estate’s management techniques hasn’t materialised out of thin air. Just before The Star’s article was published, the RSPB published its own story about Park Hall estate.

According to the article, the RSPB Investigations unit despatched a team to Park Hall in February 2021 after witnessing ‘suspicious behaviour’ at dusk by an individual on the estate. Upon arrival, the team found “pinkish square blocks” placed inside holes that later investigation suggested were used by badgers. Analysis by the Wildlife Investigation Incident Scheme (WIIS) revealed the blocks as brodifacoum, a rat poison often found in the bodies of persecuted wildlife.

Grouse shooter in shooting butt

Derbyshire Police and Natural England carried out investigations in July 2022. While the investigations failed to lead to charges, both the police and RSPB consequently informed the National Trust of the incident. The bird charity said it’s “unaware” if the brodifacoum incident led directly to the end of licensing for Hurst and Chunel Estate. However, the timing seems like more than coincidence.

Snares and stink pits

This isn’t the only case of persecution found on Park Hall. As previously mentioned, Moorland Monitors has shared its own findings on the National Trust-owned land, explaining that:

“Rather than host potentially awkward traps and snares on the NT’s own land, the amenable neighbours have encircled the private boundaries of the NT’s moorland with a network of lethal devices to stop any potentially predatory wildlife reaching the shooting territory.”

It went in to detail about one badger sett on the boundary of Park Hall property, very near to which someone had placed snares. Furthermore, surveying led to the discovery of three further snare sites around Park Hall’s boundary, two of which had signs of having previously trapped badgers. While snares are used legally to capture foxes, it’s illegal to use them for capturing badgers. But as Moorland Monitors noted:

“Gamekeepers routinely get around this by using indiscriminate snares, which they claim to set for foxes, and then claim that badgers are the *unfortunate* bycatch.”

Surveyors also found stink pits and stink bins at the snare sites, which are used to attract unwanted predators such as foxes and badgers.

As Protect the Wild has previously covered, snares and the shooting industry have a long and uncomfortable relationship.

Plenty more to do

In its statement to The Star, the National Trust said that it plans to repurpose Park Hall estate to help “mitigate the nature and climate crisis”. This claim reinforces a range of changes the charity made in May 2022 to tighten up the impact of grouse shooting on the wildlife and natural habitats found on its estates.

Nonetheless, the shooting industry remains a prolific persecutor of wildlife across the UK. Protect the Wild’s latest animation highlights its impact on foxes. And we’ve covered numerous stories on how it treats pheasants and badgers. While the National Trust’s move is an admirable one, there is plenty left to do to bring an end to the horrors of the shooting industry.

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