Stink pits, which are also known as middens, are dumped rotting animal and bird carcasses used as bait to lure animals, typically foxes, to their death. The smell attracts other animals, considered pests by shooting estates, who are caught in snares placed around the pit. On warm days it’s possible to smell the stink pit long before you see it.
Gamekeepers add all kinds of dead animals in stink pits including deer, foxes, rabbits, pheasants, crows and other wild birds. Our investigators have also found eggs, domestic cats, badgers, mountain hares and other protected wild animals and birds.
It was once expected that gamekeepers would hang their ‘vermin’ kills on a gibbet line, or vermin pole, to show the estate owner of their work. This has mostly died out due to the bad publicity it created. Similarly stink pits on grouse moors and pheasant shoots have come under the spotlight in recent times. As a result keepers often try to hide or disguise stink pits in plastic containers or bins. Gamekeepers are then able to relocate them quickly unlike with traditional stink pits.