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An anti-bloodsports campaign group is calling on Bolton Abbey to ban grouse shooting after a dead cat and fox were found near snares by a runner.

The gruesome find was made last week on the estate which operates an extensive grouse moor alongside the popular visitor destination.

Paul Carman from Addingham, who found the snares after his girlfriend tripped over one on February 12 said: “It was extremely distressing to find a dead cat and fox piled up next to snares when fell-running on Bolton Abbey Estate. As a regular visitor this is not what I expected to encounter when at the popular beauty spot.

“Bolton Abbey never replied to my email asking about what I found on the estate. They need to acknowledge the strong public opposition to this practice by banning grouse shooting to prevent this from ever happening again.

“North Yorkshire Police did a great job of responding when I reported it to them, but sadly when they arrived to investigate further the cat, fox and snares had been removed.”

Mr Carman said he and his girlfriend were running on the moor when they came across heather fires and had to divert away.

They took what looked like a footpath and went over a ladder stile but soon after his girlfriend tripped after getting tangled in the snare.

"There were a few snares around and the fox and cat were laid next to each other.

"I had never heard of a stink pit until then. I don't know if the cat and fox had been snared or just placed there, but it was very distressing."

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, said visitors to the Bolton Abbey estate would no doubt be shocked to learn that the popular beauty spot contained snares.

He said the reason was to trap predators and boost the numbers of red grouse available for shooting.

Mr Steele added: "The snares on Bolton Abbey were found set around a ‘stink pit’- a pile of rotting animals used to lure foxes - which contained a dead cat and fox," said Mr Steele.

He added he understood that Duke of Devonshire, who owns the Bolton Abbey Estate, has already ended grouse shooting on his other estate at Chatsworth House, in Derbyshire, in response to concerns about the impact on wildlife.

“With grouse shooting put on pause at Bolton Abbey last season we're urging the Duke of Devonshire to now do the right thing by making this decision permanent," said Mr Steele.

A Bolton Abbey Estate spokesman said: "Much of the Bolton Abbey Estate sits within the North Pennine Moors Special Protection Area (SPA). SPAs are selected by central government in conjunction with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to protect one or more rare, threatened or vulnerable bird species. In this instance these include the golden plover, hen harrier, merlin and peregrine falcon.

"A key aim of the SPA is to restrict the predation of and disturbance to breeding birds caused by native and non-native predators. To support this aim, we legally control foxes and feral cats within the SPA.

"The snares used on the Bolton Abbey Estate are legal and operated by trained staff under a code of best practise, which is endorsed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. The products used exceed the requirements of the code, and have a ‘break away’ design, that allows larger non-target species to break free. All snares on the estate are set in discreet locations away from public footpaths and private dwellings.

"I can also advise we work with North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Officers, who are aware of our predator control in support of the SPA."

North Yorkshire Police confirmed they had responded to a report from a member of the public.

Type of snare

Legal

Where

Bolton Abbey Estate, Yorkshire

When

February 2021

Photographic evidence


Report and photos from Craven Herald & Pioneer

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