Inglorious Twelfth: the grim reality of commercial shooting

Today marks the start of the shooting season, but what goes on behind the scenes to ensure there are plenty of birds to kill?

One day in early July, a 16-year-old girl and her mum decided to go on a bike ride in the Suffolk countryside.

After getting lost but finding what looked like a path to the main road, the pair made a gruesome discovery.

Stink pit

What she found was a ‘stink pit’ – used by gamekeepers to lure predators like foxes to their deaths to protect pheasants being reared on a game estate nearby.

Pheasants that will be shot anyway.

She reported what she saw to the League via our Animal Crimewatch service, and our investigators then swooped into action, monitoring the pit for evidence of illegal activity.

Speaking to the League after the evidence had been gathered, Georgia Connolly, 16, from Bury St Edmunds, said she cried when she found the massive pit after getting lost on a bike ride with her mum.

“We were feeling uneasy, but we went down there anyway and there were some animal cages and one of those blue pheasant feeders.

“There was this massive pit of carcasses filled with squirrels, crows, pheasants and foxes.

Stink pit

“It was horrible. We started to ride away but then we thought something needs to be done about this, so we took photographs.

“Even when we cycled on the main road it just stank. I cried. I want to be a conservationist or ecologist and it was just really horrible.”

The League is campaigning to see all snares banned.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League, said: “Killing animals just to protect birds that are being reared purely to be shot for fun makes no sense at all.

“It’s death for the sake of more death.

Snare used to trap animals attracted to the stink pit

“Our investigators were shocked by what they saw, so it’s no surprise a teenager, stumbling across it, was reduced to tears by what she saw.

“Stink pits are the dark side of commercial shooting that most people don’t see.

“This one had snares placed carefully at each corner which meant no hungry animal could escape unscathed.

“This stink pit shows how easily the Defra guidelines on snares are ignored – it’s time these cruel traps were outlawed completely.”

  • To report animal crime, please contact the League’s Animal Crimewatch service on 0300 444 1234 or email 

Sign up for our newsletter

We'd love to keep in touch. With your permission we'll let you know the very latest news on our fast-moving campaigns, as well as appeals and other actions (such as petitions) so you can continue to help protect animals.

If you would like to know more about your data protection rights, please read our privacy policy.

© 2023 The League Against Cruel Sports. Registered charity in England and Wales (1095234) and Scotland (SC045533).
Registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee, no. 04037610.
Registered office: New Sparling House, Holloway Hill, Godalming, GU7 1QZ, United Kingdom.