Moorland Gamekeepers using strategies preventing raptors from settling to breed.

In his latest video Terry Pickford highlights two effective but legal management strategies introduced on grouse moor estates in northern England designed to unsettle peregrines and hen harriers, preventing these species from settling to breed on moorland where red grouse are shot.



Terry begins describing what he found at one of two historic Bowland peregrine sites which had been located within the same valley in 2009. (see ground nest below containing 4 peregrine chicks ) At the first site a nesting ledge had been positioned a few feet above a moorland stream on the side of a twenty foot high heather bluff. Below the bluff estate gamekeepers had installed a funnel trap on top of a poll spanning the stream to control vermin, which under normal conditions the gamekeeper is required to visit each 24 hour period (not an ideal situation at any location where peregrines are known to regularly breed). Terry found evidence at the second trap located 100 yards higher up the stream containing a dead rat, the condition of the rat in the trap indicating the trap had not been checked for at least two or three weeks. It is a legal requirement that such traps when set must be checked each day within a 24 hour period; clearly an offence had been committed because the second trap had not been checked for at least two weeks. As pointed out by Terry in his commentary, there is no one making sure the law is adhered to on these moorland landscapes, but he was sure where such methodologies were being used on red grouse moors the raptor (protected or not )  would not be allowed to return to breed anytime in the future.

At the third and final funnel trap examined 100 yards up the stream, Terry Pickford points to a location several hundred yards higher up the valley on the right hand side where in 2009 he had found the last recorded ground nesting peregrine site within this valley containing 4 chicks.

Peregrine Hatching

Peregrine Ground Nest containing 4 chicks (last chick still in shell) in the same valley where traps located, now territory burnt out

It was obvious that the patch of heather where the nest had been positioned seven years earlier had recently been completely burnt out, leaving a black patch of charred  heather at least two hundred yards across. Yet another example Terry explains  of how estate gamekeepers deter protected raptors from settling to breed on the moorland they manage. Why Terry asks is it down the the North West Raptor Protection Group to highlight such irresponsible and damaging moorland management practices that disadvantage species like peregrine and hen harrier?



Terry Pickford examining one of Bowlands many abandoned peregrine territories which he claims are unlikely to be reoccupied in his lifetime.

9 comments to Moorland Gamekeepers using strategies preventing raptors from settling to breed.

  • Bowland Bill

    Good and informative video there pal. It only takes these excuses to ride noisy quad bikes all over the moors and the known breeding territories of past seasons. Harries, peregrines and short eared owls are just about wiped out already in the uplands and especially Bowland. I have seen these quads in all the right/wrong places, but they will argue the point of legality.
    Unless more folk like yourselves are willing to be up there and watching, then it seems like there is little chance of any successful apex raptors in these over keepered areas.

  • Simon

    I despair.we need to do more to stop this.please.

    Editor’s Comment. Hi Simon, you can help by making a donation to help Terry Pickford and the other members of the North West Raptor Group in their on going campaign in Bowland. This is the link you will need.

  • Adam

    I would destroy any such trap that I came across. As for vermin that gamekeepers refer to, there is no such thing as vermin. It’s a term applied to animals that inconvenience people, or is applied to something in order to excuse killing it. I hope that the police were informed about the unchecked trap? Well done Terry and co.

  • These traps dont need to be checked every day its only stink pits ie set snares or crow traps which have to checked every 24 hrs. I have hundreds of these in my area its worse if they place a stink pit or crow trap in the area which they do have to check every day. This also gives them an excuse to be in the area at critical breeding times.

  • Trapit

    Wrong Pete,I have been a professional keeper for over thirty years,traps are required to be checked in the same time frame as snares.

  • Hi Trapit
    I have been invloved in these fen traps with incidents i have reported to the police and rspb and also onekind you do not have to check them daily i suggest you look up on the matter further. .

  • Trapit

    You might have me on a technicality there Pete.
    There is a clause in the trapping regulations,going way back, that any trap that can catch and hold a rabbit ( or a hare), must be checked every twenty four hours. That must be the rule I have always worked under.
    In any case I would check every day for kindness sake.
    The traps set on rails with proper weld mesh guards should be able to stop all but the smallest rabbit from entering.
    The fact that these, along with grit trays, are situated near known raptor nest sites,is no coincidence even if they are not checked daily.
    Having so many traps that captured animals rot before they can be removed, does little for shootings image with the public.

  • Hi Trapit,

    They are kill traps [the one Terry alludes to]so dont need to be checked daily or weekly or monthly, have had them with dippers killed wheatears and wagtails all reported to the authoritys but nothing ever happens.

  • Trapit

    This afternoon,with my two dogs,I passed within a very few yards of two active Goshawk nests.
    One bird was actually standing on the nest,observing me with interest, the second could be seen fixing me with her piercing yellow eye through the twigs surrounding her.
    I moved on quickly in both instances,and no disturbance was caused,birds get used to this routine.
    However,if I were to perform certain tasks,such as resetting a trap,or filling a feed hopper,even if only every few days,maybe using a quad bike and pausing a few minutes to admire the view,the result could be very different.