Game over? Grouse shooting faces fresh calls to be banned as ‘Glorious’ Twelfth arrives.
Grouse shooting is coming under increased pressure to be banned as it prepares for the season opening on the Glorious Twelfth, with seven out ten people backing shooting birds for sport being outlawed in a new YouGov poll. The large number of grouse being shot - totalling 700,000 each season, persecution of moorland wildlife and the negative impact on the environment and local communities has led to increased opposition to the ‘sport’.
Shooting officials have responded by cautioning ‘greedy’ estates to show restraint by not placing big bird bag numbers ahead of environmental considerations – a warning moorland estates are failing to take heed of.
As the grouse shooting season opens:
- A fresh wave of MPs, including Alex Sobel (Leeds North West), Thelma Walker (Colne Valley) and Judith Cummins (Bradford South), are backing a ban on commercial grouse shooting, in a move supported by 69% of the public who oppose shooting birds for sport (YouGov / League Against Cruel Sports, 2018).
- Municipal landowners pull the plug on grouse shooting leases, including Bradford Council on the world-famous Ilkley Moor, with corporate landowners such as Yorkshire Water facing pressure to follow suit.
- Legal challenges to grouse moor practices are set to hit the courts, including a challenge to hen harrier brood management – which sees threatened birds of prey removed and reared away from shooting moors, before being released elsewhere.
- The Shooting Times Editor Patrick Galbraith hits out at ‘greedy’ estates which place big bird bags before environmental considerations. Despite calls for restraint from industry lobbyists, some ‘self-regulated’ grouse estates are offering upwards of a 300 bag of grouse per shoot day, research by the League shows.
Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, says:
“There is no good way to manage moorland for grouse shooting: it can only be done through purging by gamekeepers of native wildlife by trap, snare, poison and gun, and burning away precious habitat, all at the expense of country’s rich natural heritage.
“It is clear the government’s approach of leaving the industry to regulate itself is getting nowhere, when grouse shooting estates are even ignoring calls for restraint from their industry’s own peers, by killing wildlife and desecrating habitat to provide big grouse bags for the guns. A grouse shooting ban must be implemented to finally end this conservation calamity - as a growing number of MPs and landowners are coming to realise.”
Grouse shooting estates routinely use controversial techniques to engineer high densities of red grouse for the guns. Wild animals are trapped, snared, poisoned and shot in large numbers – including foxes, stoats, weasels and mountain hare - for consuming or disturbing ‘game’ birds.
There is also a strong link between moorland managed for grouse shooting and bird of prey persecution, which sees protected species including hen harrier, red kite and peregrine falcon being illegally targeted and killed – which has been acknowledged by to the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
Burning and draining are also deployed as widespread tools to increase heather growth and subsequently grouse numbers, causing damage to peatland habitat, depleting biodiversity, polluting water and contributing to flood risk in the valleys below grouse moors. This has also recently been attributed to creating a ‘tinder box’ through drying out the uplands, allowing wildfires to rapidly take hold and spread.
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Notes to Editors
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The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).