10 reasons not to sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting

Photo: Tim Melling
Photo: Tim Melling

My e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting has attracted quite a few signatures – I don’t know exactly how many, by now, as this blog was written on Tuesday and I have been travelling in the north of England and Wales since then… How mysterious…. [actually even the north of England has wifi these days – and it’s close to 3000 signatures after 9 days)].

Yesterday I gave you 10 reasons to sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (but there were more than 10) and today I give you 10 reasons not to sign it (but there are fewer than 10).

  1. If you hate Hen Harriers and want to continue to see them exterminated by grouse shooting interests
  2. If you don’t think that Hen Harriers should be protected by law – then why aren’t you campaigning for a change in the law?
  3. If you dislike banning anything and believe that there is always a way that reason will prevail (you would have to be an extreme optimist to believe the latter, and to do so might would be easier if you were unaware of all the effort that has gone into finding some sort of a resolution to this issue).  But this is the reason that has kept me from
    Photo: Tim Melling
    Photo: Tim Melling

    advocating a ban, or even wanting one, for so long.  Every tether has an end, and I’ve found the end of mine.

  4. If you believe that the economic benefits of grouse shooting outweigh everything else – wildlife, blanket bog, carbon storage, everything.
  5. If you believe that the biodiversity benefits of grouse shooting outweigh the loss of Hen Harriers and other raptors and mountain hares etc etc
  6. If you believe that upland management without grouse shooting would be worse than upland management with grouse shooting
  7. If you don’t like me – can’t apply to many people, surely?


Fullscreen capture 03062014 211155Well, there must be some more. I find No 3 the most convincing – but it does depend on there being reasonable people out there, rather than unreasonable, intransigent ones who try to maintain the criminal status quo. Believe me, it’s not as though there haven’t been decades of discussions aiming to reach a conclusion.

But there is something to be said, seriously, for points 4, 5 and 6 too. I’ll come back to two of them this evening at 6pm.

I really would like you to sign this e-petition now though please.


21 Replies to “10 reasons not to sign my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting”

  1. Despite the fact that I agree with many of the reasons for signing the petition and would like to sign it, I won’t be because:
    Number 8: You’re a Scot living in Scotland and don’t believe you’ve got any right to tell people of England (as this is an England only petition if I’m not mistaken) what to do.

    1. Donald – awww, go on! You want to – give us a helping hand, please.

      That’s a principled approach provided you are happy for some of your taxes to be spent supporting grouse shooting. I wonder whether you vote in UK elections – you could send a message to Westminster MPs, including your own, about the way forward on this issue.

      Or you could start a similar e-petition in Scotland -I’ll sign yours for I have scruples, but not those that you have laid out here. Thanks for your comment.

      The e-petition is 10 signatures away from 3000 – if it gets there in the next 10 minutes it is on Day 9, if it takes a bit longer it will be in the early part of Day 10. Go on Donald – you could be that 3000th – make my day!

  2. Donald, I live in England and I’ve signed petitions for Scotland & the persecution of Eagles, Kites etc. I don’t think it matters where you are from if you believe in saving a species for future generations to enjoy, I’m visiting Scotland later in the year and I for one want to experience the landscape & wildlife Scotland and England have to offer. I think it’s down to us to protect our wildlife, so let your voice be heard Donald.

  3. Donald, I live in Wales and I’m lucky enough to be able to see Hen Harriers fairly locally – however, I signed Mark’s petition and I urge you to do the same – you say you want to!
    If any of your Scottish HHs (or my Welsh ones) decide to fly over the border do you think they will be immune to persecution?
    Wildlife does not recognise national or international borders and this is not an “English” issue, its one that we should all be concerned about and willing to take action over. If the species Mark was wanting to protect was a European one being persecuted in Spain, or an African one being persecuted in Kenya, or an Australian one being persecuted in the outback, I would still sign. We are all diminished by the deliberate persecution and destruction of any wildlife anywhere. The fact is that HHs have scandalously disappeared over English skies and that is not an acceptable state of affairs to me.

  4. I have always been against shooting because of the immense cruelty put onto wildlife that “needs” to be culled for such shoots to occur. Dreadful. I am glad that someone is finally doing something about it. I always wonder what impact the habitat management of heather moorland has on grass snakes and adders – can’t be that good. I’ve signed it and hope it exceeds.

  5. I suspect for the RSPB there is 9: You are looking in horror at what’s happening to the RSPCA as a result of a concerted knocking campaign by the Murdoch press and you don’t want to be next on the hit list.

    and for the RSPCA 10: Things are bad enough already

  6. Mark – lovely to read such a well balanced and thoroughly researched post.

    1. Andrew – and you can’t ignore it can you? Public demonstrations in favour of the HH and against its illegal persecution happening at five sites in England near the beginning of the Red Grouse shooting season, an e-petition that has amassed 3000 signatures in 10 days, and a lot of frustrated nature conservationists, animal rights campaigners, ramblers, climate scientists and others all getting together and pointing the finger at grouse shooting. How comfortable will the guns feel on 12 August?

      While you’re here – how many HH would GWCT be willing to tolerate in England? What’s the plan?

  7. Donald,if your a fair minded person you are sure to sign
    I would bet that Scotland wildlife has benefited immensely from what Mark has done in the past.

  8. Tim Melling has shown the best way to shoot wildlife is with a camera. There is nothing clever in shooting wildlife with a scatter gun.

  9. If driven grouse shooting were banned, would illegal persecution of hen harriers and other protected species actually stop or significantly reduce? The moors would still be owned by the same people employing the same cuddly keepers with their bulging gun cabinets and stashes of poison. The same problems of catching and convicting those illegally killing protected wildlife etc. would remain. How would driven grouse shooting be defined in law? How would, and how effectively could, such a ban be enforced?

    1. I think if grouse shooting was stopped the money required to carry out persecution would no longer be available?

  10. Normally, those conservation organisations best placed to save species choose to do so. Why haven’t e.g. GWCT, CLA etc. chose to take on, champion and raise funds for implementing this “Joint” action plan (noting that no (?) other action plan in the UK has been named as such, so there’s an implicit recognition of the conflict surrounding Hen Harrier conservation here)? Why are they missing such a good opportunity to lead on this issue? Surely just a few driven grouse moors managed sympathetically for Hen Harriers, with increasing Hen Harrier numbers, would enable grouse moor owners to champion their success and commitment to Hen Harrier conservation (even if they have no intention whatsoever of managing most of the other grouse moors sympathetically for Hen Harriers). I don’t understand…

    1. Anonymous (I love your email address!)- that is a very good point. Not much leadership is there?

      They will say that that is what the Duke of Buccleugh did at Langholm all those years ago. But we need to see some leadership in the north of England all these years later. Your comment has started a train of thought… thank you.

      1. But Anon, also worth noting that the JAP is a Defra initiative, which the other organisations would have to sign up to and the Government of the day implement. It’s not a plan or project that the organisations themselves – either individually or collectively – can put into effect. You will doubtless have seen that one feature of the plan (which would have to be seen as a package deal with several component parts) is the so-called Brood Management Scheme. (This incidentally is a variant of a scheme which Mark himself used to commend warmly on this site: https://markavery.info/2011/08/16/quotas-time). Because a BMS would involve some managed intervention, it would require a derogation from the relevant European directive. Effectively only the Government could apply for that.

        1. Lazywell – we’re all agog!

          You do quote rather selectively what i wrote three years ago (yes three years ago before HH numbers in England were further reduced to just 2 pairs – a big mistake on the part of the criminal elements in my opinion). Here are some other words from that blog:

          …it has always struck me that it might not be that easy to sell within the shooting community anyway – seems like a lot of trouble to go to when you can carry on breaking the law and pretend that you aren’t – and that is one reason why I would require a statement from reputable shooting organisations that they ‘admit’ that there is an awful lot of illegal killing of raptors and that they agree that this limits raptor numbers. Such a statement means that there is no going back.

          So such a statement from shooting organisations, not from individual moor managers, is a necessary step, in my opinion, to being able to win over nature conservationists to this scheme. All grouse moors benefit from the illegal killing of raptors – whether that killing is done by the few or the many – and it needs a collective, public admission of the problem to move things on and to gain the trust of nature conservationists. Is this grouse moor managers making the first move? yes it is – but that’s where the criminality lies, that’s the industry with the problem and they get something in return a bit further down the line…

  11. To be fair, I didn’t actually quote you; I referred to your earlier posting and gave the citation. The fact is that you proposed your own package deal to resolve the conflict – including, yes, some kind of upfront admission of wrongdoing by the shooting community – but which also expressly included the principle of quotas. The clue was in the title of the posting, “Quotas – has their time come?”. You subsequently commended the same proposal in an article in The Field. Since then, however, you have undergone a most startling conversion.

    As you say, it was a few years ago now, but the arguments in favour of a managed solution remain as strong as they ever were; if not more so, in light of the further decrease in harrier numbers you identify. It was a pity, therefore, that the RSPB delayed matters by walking away from the Environment Council process – as I understand it because their Council couldn’t agree on the even less invasive idea of a Brood Management Scheme. But it is a positive sign that they remain part of the current Defra process, and from what I gather have this time agreed to the principle of a BMS being included in the plan.

    As for whether the shooting organisations will offer the sort of mea culpa you say would be essential for winning round yourself and other like-minded conservationists, I honestly don’t know. My own view for what it’s worth is that the scientific and anecdotal evidence is such that blanket denials in relation to the impact of persecution are pretty unconvincing.

    1. Lazywell – the arguments in favour of a brood management scheme have always been finely balanced. For many, it looks like legalising an illegal activity and rewarding the criminal elements. Those who feel like that will feel it even more strongly now that the Hen Harrier has been reduced to a mere two pairs in England. I did say (a few days ago not a few years ago) that this was a big mistake by the grouse shooting interests and it is https://markavery.info/2014/06/03/wrong/

      There is little reason why nature conservationists should trust grouse shooting at all to deliver on any promises made through the non-joint non-action non-plan that you mention so often. Where are the pairs of Hen Harrier across northern England? Where are the pairs where grouse moor managers test supplementary feeding (aside from Langholm)? Where is there any sign of good will at all?

      No, it’s a bit late in the day to come over all reasonable when the evidence on the ground is that grouse shooting is an industry bent on exterminating a protected (and thoroughly wonderful) bird of prey.

      Your own favourite organisation, GWCT, does little to win over the undecided when it trots out the argument that Hen Harriers need a ‘cuddle from a ‘keeper’ too. When the GWCT writes in its blog ‘the control of predators such as foxes and crows, carried out to protect red grouse, can benefit one of our most striking birds of prey – the hen harrier’ then the arguments reach a new low. Hen Harriers are practically absent from grouse moors right across the UK as a breeding species and to imply that Hen Harriers need grouse moor management is really taking the mickey in a way that further reduces the credibility of one ‘side’ in this debate.

      Grouse shooting has been unreasonable and unbending for too long over the matter of criminal activity in the uplands. As you admit, you can’t even be sure that organisations, such as the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance (I guess) could bring themselves to be completely honest about the situation to the public. This is another sign of arrogance and bad faith.

      And why should the forces of law and order, under these circumstances, believe that those who say they ‘represent’ grouse shooting actually have the power to call off the criminal elements? Why should we believe that GWCT can command grouse moor managers not to kill Hen Harriers under any brood management scheme? Come back and ask us when there are 25 pairs of Hen Harrier in the north of England and you might get a better reception but not now.

  12. I also feel that wildlife should be left alone as nature has its own way in dealing with foxes. badgers.etc.we had a few foxes. badgers. hares. Around the area where I live but some gamekeeper moved in and brought his friends along. They go out most night’s if not ever night and have done over the last four years or more. Now when you are out you don’t here foxes calling or badgers on the roads or hares in the fields. We don’t see many magpies. Crows. I know they can all be a menace at times But isn’t that nature why should man go out each night to hunt and slaughter this kind of wildlife. I just don’t see what pleasure it gives. They all have hearts that beat! If man did it to survive then that would be different maybe but not for pleasure.

Comments are closed.