Rotting fox corpses have been discovered in what has been described as 'stink pits' on a Yorkshire grouse shooting estate.
According to animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), the foxes were caught in illegal self-locking snares on Bingley Moor Estate. LACS says in addition, dozens of fenn traps - which it describes as 'jaw-like' - were set to destroy native stoats and weasels.
"Grouse shooting estates purge native wildlife to increase red grouse populations for the guns," Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"Thousands of animals - including foxes, stoats, weasels, corvids and often birds of prey - are killed by trap, snare and bullet for no other reason than they compete with game bird shooting interests.
"These animals are a cornerstone of Britain's natural heritage. To think they are wiped out from the moorlands in barbaric ways, just so other animals can be shot for entertainment, is truly sickening."
'Protecting endangered birds'
Edward Bromet, of Bingley Moor Partnership, which runs Bingley Moor Estate, told the Keithley News that the estate's actions were legal and an attempt to 'maintain biodiversity'.
"Foxes are a predator and we get a lot of foxes in the lower dales coming out of the town centres and they do need to be controlled," he said. "It's absolutely legal to set snares and traps for stoats and weasels and they are similar to foxes in that they are a predator and they will kill vulnerable birds and attack nests.
"Essentially what we are doing is maintaining biodiversity on moorland and Bingley is particularly under pressure being so close to town centers."
West Yorkshire Police has launched a wildlife crime investigation.