LARGE middens filled with rotting animal carcases, used by estates and farms to lure foxes and other predators, are to be scrutinised as part of a government review into snares.

Scottish Government environment minister Roseanna Cunningham, made the announcement yesterday during a debate on what are commonly known as stink pits.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame called for the holes to banned, describing the practice inhumane, “Gamekeepers are taught to dig a grave and fill it with bait such as wildlife carcases, fish heads and other animal remains, and to build low walls of brash and branches that direct foxes towards gaps, where snares are placed,” she said.

“Snares are cruel and indiscriminate traps, which OneKind and the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, along with 76 per cent of the Scottish public—including me—believe should be banned.” The MSP said animals used in stink pics regularly included foxes, deer, whole salmon, pink-footed geese, pheasants, rabbits, hares and cats.

Labour’s Colin Smyth argued that banning the middens would not go far enough, saying the stink pits were “merely the symptom of a wider disease: snaring.”

Tory MSP Peter Chapman, a farmer, was not unsympathetic but asked for a distinction to be made between what estates do and what working farms do. “Middens are used to attract predators, which can then be controlled through legal means. I fully understand that some members may not like the use of snares, and I respect that. However, they are an effective and, if used by a trained practitioner, legal form of control.”

Replying, Cunningham said she appreciated that “the idea of rotting carcasses in a stink pit will be repugnant to many, if not most, people.” But it was the “job of legislators to give careful consideration to how and why they are being used” before banning them.