A Peak District estate is under pressure to remove more than 100 animal snares from its land after an investigation found that several people had been injured along with scores of hares.
In the past five years, four runners claimed to have suffered cuts and bruises after having been caught in the traps – which are designed to catch foxes – on open-access moorland at Stanage Edge near Bamford in Derbyshire.
The most recent incident, involving two members of the Dark Peak Fell Runners group based in Sheffield, occurred in January this year and triggered a plea for the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) to investigate the use of the wire devices across this eastern patch of the Peak District.
Moscar Estate, which owns the land, uses the legal snares to control the number of foxes in the area because of the threat they pose to both the red grouse and other bird species in the area.
Lacs conducted its investigation at the end of March and said it found that more than 100 snares were being used in a highly concentrated area, where numerous mountain hares were found dead. It also found several “stink pits”, which are filled with dead animals to attract foxes to the snares.
One of the runners caught in January suffered a heavy fall and severe cuts and bruising to his ankle. One of his co-members of the Dark Peak group, Bob Berzins, has been in a five-year battle with Moscar to have the snares removed.
“The snares are not tucked away in some corner where no one goes, they are on a lovely piece of moorland which people use,” he said. “There are people who do go up on to this land. They want to explore it. If they continue to use these snares, more people will be injured. It’s definitely going to put people off going to these areas. It is a beautiful part of the Peak District.”
Caroline Hanson, Moscar’s land manager, said part of the snared area is fenced-off and marked with canes. She said the snares and the canes had been tampered with in some cases. The estate also said the snared areas are marked on a map made available to the runners.
“It’s very unfortunate this fell runner has suffered such a nasty shock. I felt very sorry for him,” said Ms Hanson. “Snaring is a legitimate thing that we do. We have some amazing, beautiful moorland, but it needs to be managed.”
Dr Toni Shephard, head of policy and research at Lacs, said: “We do want a complete ban. We are only one of five countries in Europe where they’re legal. It is quite a primitive device. You can’t control which animals get caught in them.”
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