Keep an eye on this disease

Photo: Tim Melling
Photo: Tim Melling

Bulgy-eye is a growing problem it seems on grouse moors in the north of England (see here, here and here). We hear that one grouse moor in the Peak District has cancelled all its grouse shooting days for this year because of an outbreak.

It’s not totally surprising is it? When you are engineering unnaturally high densities of one species, Red Grouse, at the expense of all others, disease is likely to be a problem.  Medicated grit has enabled many grouse moors to get on top of the problem of strongylosis but you can’t cheat nature for ever.

Of course, in a natural situation, without extreme predator control, the foxes and stoats might take out more of the diseased birds and cut down on transmission to healthy birds.  But the state of affairs on grouse moors is far, far from natural. There are two cracking quotes from a grouse moor manager about this subject towards the end of Chapter 2 of Inglorious (pp79-80).

Bulge eye is caused by the protozoan Cryptospordium baileyi (which affects poultry but to which humans are not susceptible).


Ban driven grouse shooting.


7 Replies to “Keep an eye on this disease”

  1. And what will get the blame as carrier this time? Too many voles? Too many meadow pipits? Too many golden plovers? All easily taken care of……

  2. The current management of grouse is creating what the writer Dexter Petley called a ‘slum ecology’. He was referring to humans but the same principals apply…….let the weak reproduce and you are in trouble.

    It’s a very uncomfortable truth.

    1. As UU are warning people about gastroenteritis, the likely suspect is Cryptosporidium parvum but I can’t find a definite answer that it’s not C. baileyi.

      1. Lyn – it’s not my area of expertise, but I have read that C. baileyi does not affect people.

        1. Aye…. and they said that about grouse shooting- till the research showed different!

          1. Unless and until sound evidence comes to light to suggest there is a link, I believe it would be tactically counter-productive to use the Lancashire Water contamination issue as an argument against grouse shooting as it opens us to accusations of being cranks seeking to lay any and every ill of society at the door of the grouse industry, however tenuous the evidence. There are plenty of more solidly established problems caused by grouse management to focus on.

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