Spring trap across Sleddale Beck

Not a pretty picture. Just an example of the type of traps used to ensure the heather moors are eradicated of small mammalian predators, such as stoats and weasels, which may feed on the young grouse chicks. Complete eradication of all “vermin” is the aim. This is in spite of the moors being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. These traps are very common, placed on a log across a ditch or stream, or along the top of a wall, but well out of sight of the general public. It wouldn’t do for a member of the public to find a stoat with its back broken. The cage is to ensure nothing bigger than the target species can enter; not entirely full proof. Of course, stoats do not differentiate between grouse chicks and those of ground nesting waders like Curlew, Golden Plover and Lapwing. These species do benefit from the eradication of stoats, a fact much publicised by the grouse shooting industry but the cost is a significant reduction of the biodiversity of the moorland and a much poorer countryside. And the cost is not just aesthetic. In a 2014 survey, the Friends of the Earth found that 30 grouse shooting estates, covering over half a million acres, received £4m of public subsidy including one owned by the Duke of Westminster, the richest landowner in Britain with land holdings estimated to be worth £9bn.

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