Stink Pit with Snares trap on moorland
Snares set at a stink pit in the Yorkshire Dales (© oldrunningfox)

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.

Stink Pit Walshaw Estate, West Yorkshire
Stink pit on the Walshaw Estate, West Yorkshire

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.

Stink Bins

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.

Stink bin pit with pheasants on moorland in South Yorkshire
Stink bin with pheasants in bags (© South Yorks Badger Group)
Stink bin pit with mountain hares on moorland in Derbyshire
Stink bin containing mountain hares (© Raptor Persecution UK)