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We work to expose and end the cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of sport

New report reveals gross over management by Scottish grouse moors

13 October 2015

Wealthy Scottish grouse moor owners are ruining huge areas of Scottish countryside – and being paid by the tax-payer to do so - as they industrially over-manage their land to squeeze maximum profits from their grouse shoots, reveals a new report from land reform expert Andy Wightman and international conservation expert Dr Ruth Tingay.

The report, “The intensification of grouse moor management in Scotland”, was commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports to look at the issue in the context of Scottish Land Reform.  It shows that the industrialised over-management of grouse moorlands is reducing biodiversity and is in direct conflict with conservation best-practice

The report highlights the negative environmental and conservation-related impacts of grouse moors, including:

  • Annual burning of heather, which reduces biodiversity and releases carbon into the atmosphere
  • Mountain hares, crows, foxes and stoats wiped out on an industrial scale, and a suspicious breeding absence of endangered birds of prey
  • Sheep used as ‘tick mops’ to attract ticks away from the grouse
  • Medicines are spread around the moors to reduce disease in grouse
  • Moors covered in snares and traps that wound and maim indiscriminately
  • Roads built on moorland to make life easier for shooters       

Robbie Marsland, Director of League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said:  “The increasing intensification of grouse moor management has spiralled out of control and is blighting huge swathes of the Scottish countryside. 

"What’s more, it’s funded by hard-working tax-payers for the sake of just one bird, so that it can be shot down for fun and generate huge profits for the private land-owners.

“We agree with the Government that business rate tax relief for grouse moors should be removed.  It’s also time to end subsidies to the grouse shooting industry and introduce regulation to safeguard the habitats, environment and bio-diversity of our precious uplands.”

The new report also reveals that while some land-owners are being subsidised to the tune of up to £300,000 a year, their grouse shoots contribute very little to local economies.  The whole industry provides less than 3,000 full-time equivalent jobs with an average salary of £11,401 – which is less than the minimum wage. 
And despite being subsidised by tax-payers, more and more land is being fenced off and made inaccessible to the public.

Andy Wightman, co-author of the grouse moor management report said:  “The evidence we have uncovered is a shocking indictment of a land use that is out of control.  I hope this comes as a wake-up call to Scotland’s politicians.

“The methods being deployed to maximise grouse numbers are damaging the environment and are subject to no effective regulation or oversight by the Scottish Government and other public authorities.”

The League Against Cruel Sports is calling for:

  • An end to tax-payer-funded subsidies to grouse estates
  • Burning heather should be further regulated
  • Road building on moors should be subject to the same planning permission as any other road
  • The use of snares should end
  • Shooting of endangered mountain hares should stop
  • The indiscriminate use of medicines should be banned        

The League Against Cruel Sports has produced an animated, free to use video, ‘What’s Our Grouse’ which illustrates the problems surrounding grouse moor management.

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Further Press Information:  League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524 250 or email