MSPs to debate use of stink pits on game shooting estates

Tomorrow (Thursday 15 June 2017) Christine Grahame MSP (SNP) will lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the use of stink pits on game shooting estates.

Stink pits (also known as middens) are piles of dead, rotting carcasses, surrounded by snares, that are used by gamekeepers to lure in predators that can then be killed and added to the death pile.

The use of stink pits is currently legal in Scotland, under a special derogation for gamekeepers. Charity OneKind has been campaigning to ask the Scottish Government to consider banning the use of stink pits on ethical, animal welfare and public health grounds and they’ve published a gruesome blog on this issue (here). Here are some of the images from that blog:

Leadhills Estate, South Lanarkshire, November 2016: Note the snare around the muzzle of the young fox in the bowl

Marchmont Estate, Berwickshire, October 2015: a dozen pink footed geese dumped in a stink pit

Glen Turret Estate, Perthshire, June 2016: as well as this dead cat, the stink pit also contained deer, pheasant, crows, salmon and a fox

Glenogil Estate, Angus Glens, May 2011: a decomposing fox that had been thrown over a tree stump next to a line of snares. Another dead fox was found nearby with a snare still around its neck

In May 2017, Christine Grahame MSP lodged a parliamentary motion (S5M-05662) as follows:

That the Parliament notes the continued use of stink pits, which are also known as middens, as part of the predator control regime on shooting estates in in the Scottish Borders and elsewhere; understands that these are pits or piles of animal carcasses that are left to decompose so that the smell will attract foxes and other predators into snares placed around them; believe that the dead animals found in these pits recently have included foxes, deer, whole salmon, pink-footed geese, pheasants, rabbits, mountain hares and domestic cats; considers that killing and dumping animals, including protected species and domestic pets, to rot and act as bait to trap other animals, is inhumane and fundamentally disrespectful to the creatures; believes that current use goes beyond good practice in many instances; notes the view that it is necessary to assess the justification for permitting their use when the disposal of farm livestock is strictly controlled, when the extent to which their use is associated with the killing of protected species and domestic animals is taken account of and when the association between the pits and intensive predator control regimes as practised on driven grouse moors is examined, and notes the calls for Scottish Government to consider the merits of banning the use of stink pits in Scotland altogether, on ethical, animal welfare and public health grounds.

This motion received cross-party political support as follows. Is your MSP on this list? What, no Conservatives?

Colin Smyth (Labour), Gillian Martin (SNP), John Finnie (Greens), Ruth Maguire (SNP), Stuart McMillan (SNP), Rona Mackay (SNP), Alex Rowley (Labour), Joan McAlpine (SNP), Alison Johnstone (Greens), Emma Harper (SNP), Bill Kidd (SNP), Ash Denham (SNP), Iain Gray (Labour), Kenneth Gibson (SNP), Clare Haughey (SNP), Mark Ruskell (Greens), Johann Lamont (Labour), Pauline McNeill (Labour), Ivan McKee (SNP), Sandra White (SNP), Patrick Harvie (Greens), Elaine Smith (Labour), John Mason (SNP), Richard Lochhead (SNP), James Dornan (SNP), Fulton MacGregor (SNP), Claudia Beamish (Labour), Andy Wightman (Greens), David Torrance (SNP), Tom Arthur (SNP), Ben Macpherson (SNP), Jackie Baillie (Labour), Gail Ross (SNP), Clare Adamson (SNP).

Because MSPs from several political parties (with the exception of the Tories) have supported the motion, it will now be debated in Chamber tomorrow afternoon after First Minister’s Questions (FMQ starts at 12 noon). You can watch the debate live here and we’ll post the official transcript when it becomes available.

Well done OneKind, well done Christine Grahame MSP, and well done all those MSPs who supported this motion. The more political scrutiny of obscene gamekeeping practices, the better.


12 Responses to “MSPs to debate use of stink pits on game shooting estates”

  1. 1 Les Wallace
    June 14, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    WTF 12 pink feet geese in a stink pit!?! We’ll know with absolute certainty that the tide has turned when a Tory MSP breaks rank and joins up with the saner elements of the other parties. Not impossible a growing number of Tory MPs are publicly stating their opposition to fox hunting, there comes a stage when public revulsion weighs heavier than keeping in with the good old boys which won’t be much good if you lose your seat. Well bloody done Onekind when a so called sport requires not only the killing of wildlife directly and indirectly, but such obscenities as snares and stink pits it’s not a harmless hobby but an unpleasant and unhealthy obsession like collecting birds’ eggs or stealing knickers from washing lines – the amount of money involved won’t change that. Layer by layer let’s see the romanticized tosh get publicly stripped away from this vile industry.

  2. 2 Greer Hart, senior
    June 14, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks once again RPS for revealing the vile practices of game shooting industry and gamekeeping. Before I came on your site, I was watching a programme on the Syrian conflict and the role of ISIS/Daesh in that dreadful war. Coming aboard your email, I found a similarity of worlds between what is being allowed in the countryside of Britain, and the bestial slaughter going on in the Middle East. I know we have had the old argument about using the word holocaust, as being inappropriate, when used to describe animal mass slaughter. However, as a humanitarian, I am as much concerned about animals suffering, as I am with what goes on among human beings. I rail the same way, when I read of children and vulnerable people being abused, neglected or murdered, as I do on finding that wildlife is being exterminated for sport, daft medical ideas, poaching and the mistreatment of animals on farms, slaughterhouses, fish farms, puppy farms, laboratories etc. Existence for many creatures and humans, is one horrid nightmare of living in a dimension called Hell on Earth. For anyone in politics or some other form of power, to allow animals to suffer dreadful cruelty and contempt for their being some kind of threat to the perversion of blood sports, is plain walking on the other side of the road/turning a blind eye/washing one’s hands of something.

    The Conservatives do not have one signatory on the list of supportive members regarding the stink pit issue. One of the first things Theresa May took off her list of do’s, was the debate on allowing the return of fox hunting. I think public opinion must have warned her that the ever growing number of animal friendly people in the UK do not want the outrageous tally ho mob arrogantly dominating our countryside. I approached a young Tory aspirant before the recent General Election, and asked what his intention would be if he got elected, with regard to the free vote on the return of fox hunting. He would vote against it. Could not at least one of the new Conservative MPs have been supportive of this initiative to rid Scotland of stink pits? This could bode them ill, as many people do not want Scotland to be host to cruel practices against animals. I would avuncularly lecture our new Tory MPs on the existence among their ranks of old, of a very humane and upstanding MP, called Teddy Taylor, who was very popular with the ordinary folk among his area’s electorate. He, and Wedgewood Benn (Labour and very Left), would join forces when any animal welfare came up in the Commons, such as Badger baiting, Fox hunting and Hare coursing, and any other medieval atrocity still unpleasantly being classed as sports. I actually phoned Ruth Davidson a few months ago, and asked her intent on game bird shooting and the killing of Birds of Prey. She seemed “constipated” on that subject, obviously taking orders from HQ to maintain support for blood sports here. There is a role for Conservatism in Scottish politics, but it has to be of the Teddy Taylor type, and not being supportive of some of the inanities that we Scots find offensive coming from the English version,and its wearisome clinging to traditions alien to modern and humane thinking and behaving Scots. I was glad to see my SNP MSP on that list, and some of the Labour MSPs with whom I have had contact before the Election.

  3. June 14, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    The tide is certanly turning .
    After decades of working in the countryside in raptor protection & the wider environment I can see that all these issues of driven grouse shooting, snares, stink pits, tunnel traps, cage traps [ which conveniently catch Goshawks & other raptors ],muir burn,poisons, raptor persecution, hare killing, restricted rural economies etc etc are now entering the debate amongst the wider public.

    Keep up the pressure !

  4. June 15, 2017 at 7:11 am

    No LIbdems on the list either. My MSP has received an email this morning

  5. 5 Merlin
    June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Well done Onekind good luck.

  6. 6 George M
    June 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Yes, well done Onekind. I have always found these stinkpits obscene and fully support any effort to make them illegal. But why is MSP Mairi Evans not on the list? She is the Hen Harrier Champion and one is entitled to think that a representative that supports environmental and wildlife initiatives would lend her support. Is her constituency in the Angus Glens and the recent election results influencing her decisions in these areas? It would be interesting to hear her side of things but since the case of a hen harrier being shot slightly off video was dropped she has been invisible. She has still to reply to my question as to what course of action she is intending to employ in the wake of that decision.

  7. June 15, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Great! Let’s get all this stuff out in the open. The by-catch from ‘tunnel-traps’ next?

  8. 8 Iain Gibson
    June 16, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Is it safe to assume that these people have a morbid obsession with death? The worst case of stink pit I ever encountered was when a shooting syndicate created one containing over 300 dead Mallard, which they had shot in one overnight session (massacre would be more appropriate). Ironically this stink pit was within 500 metres of the boundary of a well known RSPB Reserve!

    • 9 Dylanben
      June 16, 2017 at 8:05 am

      This obscene practice begs the question how they managed to circumvent the normal rules for disposal of dead animals. It’s an irony that they can apparently legitimately adopt this method, which saves them a lot of hassle, whilst using it as a magnet to trap or snare further victims. Meanwhile, it is an offence for a farmer to leave out dead stock as food for scavenging species. Say no more!

      • 10 lizzybusy
        June 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm

        Actually, using fallen stock as bait is illegal under UK and EU Animal By-products legislation…

        Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2002

        “This Regulation sets out the measures to be implemented for the processing of animal by-products.

        Animal by-products are defined as the entire bodies or parts of bodies of animals or products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including ova, embryos and sperm.

        This Regulation lays down the health and surveillance rules applicable to:
        the collection, transport, storage, handling, processing and use or disposal of animal by-products;

        It does not apply to:

        entire bodies (or parts) of healthy wild animals, except for fish landed for commercial purposes and animals used to produce game trophies;

        Category 2 material
        Category 2 material comprises the following animal by-products:

        animals … that have not been slaughtered for human consumption;

        Except in the case of manure, the intermediate handling and storage of category 2 material must take place in approved intermediate establishments… Collected, transported and identified without delay, this material shall be:
        directly disposed of as waste by incineration in an approved incineration plant;
        processed in an approved plant by a specific method, in which case the resultant material shall be marked and finally disposed of as waste; (or)
        used in a technical plant to produce game trophies.”

        The Animal By-Products Regulation does not apply to the carcases or body parts of dead, healthy, wild animals or birds. However, it does apply to the disposal of the carcasses of pets, captive wild animals and birds and livestock.

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