Fieldsports magazine has asked its reader (is there more than one?) to use this handy checklist on social media to ‘spread the truth about grouse moor management’ – here are some responses. Please feel free to respond to any social media on this subject by linking to these answers.
Presumably this is the best that the hobby of driven grouse shooting can do to come up with convincing answers – not very convincing at all. But fair play to Fieldsports for being one of the few attempts from grouse shooting’s supporters to make a case for their hobby. After all, despite asking the Moorland Association and the GWCT no landowner representative of grouse shooting is available for a debate at the Bird Fair on this subject. Often grouse shooting resorts to abuse of Chris Packham, myself, the RSPB (eg here and here) or just the world in general rather than arguing their case.
- 75 per cent of the world’s total expanse of heather moorland is found in the UK. More or less correct – and will still be there when intensive grouse shooting is a thing of the past. And your point is?
- Around £100million is spent on grouse moor conservation by shoot owners and Guns each year. The report from which this figure is taken depends on unverifiable data from the grouse shooting industry. It does not take into account the financial costs of intensive grouse moor management: increased flood risk, increased home insurance costs, increased water treatment costs, increased greenhouse gas emissions and reduced aquatic biodiversity and loss of protected wildlife that would be an asset to the tourist industry.
- Of the £100million spent on conservation, most goes towards controlling diseases and invasive species. See above. Diseases of? Presumably diseases of Red Grouse that are caused by unnaturally high densities necessary for the hobby of driven grouse shooting. Red Grouse meat for human consumption is not currently tested for the chemicals used to dose Red Grouse and it should be. Does the large scale killing of Mountain Hares fall into this category – killed because they may carry ticks which may affect Red Grouse numbers which may affect the numbers available for shooting?
- 79 per cent of Special Protection Areas in the North York Moors and Pennines are managed for grouse shooting. And many were notified for their Hen Harrier populations – which are now practically absent because of wildlife crime. Many grouse moors are also Special Areas of Conservation because of their blanket bogs – the European Commission is investigating the UK government’s failure to protect these areas from over-burning and over-drainage by grouse moor managers.
- Up to five times more endangered species, such as curlew and dotterel, are supported on moors dedicated to grouse shooting. Not many Dotterel on grouse moors actually – think you may have got your species wrong there. Some bird species benefit from grouse moor management (but none is dependent on it) and some lose. All species living on grouse moors live elsewhere too. All species living on grouse moors live elsewhere in the world where driven grouse shooting is absent. All species living on grouse moors evolved and lived for thousands of years before intensive grouse moor management for the hobby of grouse shooting came into existence in the nineteenth century.
- Of all English grouse moors, 90 per cent are located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or national park. One AONB, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, has the Hen Harrier as its logo. It regularly used to hold more than a dozen pairs of nesting Hen Harriers. This year there are none. Last year there were six nesting attempts from which four male Hen Harriers ‘disappeared’ – the likelihood is that they were illegally killed. In 2013 two satellite-tagged Hen Harriers. Hope and Skye, ‘disappeared’ abruptly in the Forest of Bowland. Peregrine Falcons are also persecuted in the Forest of Bowland AONB and National Parks across the north of England. The Forest of Bowland has lost its logo and much of its natural beauty because of wildlife crime.
- Managing the heather essential for red grouse helps to preserve and protect the peat found on grouse moors, the UK’s biggest carbon store. Grouse moor management was criticised by the Committee on Climate Change who said ‘The damaging practice of burning peat to increase grouse yields continues, including on protected sites’.
- 70 per cent of the UK’s drinking water comes from the uplands that include managed grouse moors. Water companies spend huge sums on cleaning polluted water coming off intensively managed grouse moors. Getting rid of driven grouse shooting would reduce water bills for customers who never see a Red Grouse let alone shoot them.
- The equivalent of over 2,500 full-time jobs are supported by grouse shooting in the UK. Start retraining – that’s what is needed when a pastime is underpinned by wildlife crime and is environmentally unsustainable.
- 40,000 people take part in grouse shooting every year, bringing together on average 40 people per shoot. 63,000 people have signed a petition to ban driven grouse shooting – please sign here.
- Controlled heather burning or muirburn dramatically reduces the risk of destructive wild fires. Some truth in this – but much lighter burning could continue in the absence of intensive grouse shooting.
- Grouse is a delicious, healthy and important source of protein. It’s not that great actually – although that is a matter of taste – and it’s certainly not important. What is a matter of fact is that grouse meat on sale in the UK has very high lead levels (even when all pellets are removed before testing) and lead is a poison. Grouse shooters have refused to switch to using non-toxic ammunition.
Later I’ll supply some handy tweets for those of you on Twitter.
Please sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting – many thanks!