The Moorland Imbalance (1)

In their little booklet, the GWCT address five areas that they say are commonly-heard criticisms of driven grouse shooting. This week I’ll deal with each of them.

GWCT say that it is claimed that ‘Conservation organisations want to ban it‘.

This is what is called a straw man – it’s a device for avoiding the real issue by pretending that the issue is something else.

So the GWCT say that conservation organisations don’t want to ban driven grouse shooting giving the impression that all is well with driven grouse shooting and neglecting to say that the RSPB is in favour of licensing shooting estates including driven grouse moors. And neglecting to say that the Scottish government is investigating the licensing of driven grouse moors too after a public petition asking for this to happen.

There is also widespread public support for introducing vicarious liability into English law for wildlife crimes because that would put land owners in the position of having to take responsibility for the actions of their employees.

Of course, GWCT also, in their booklet neglect to mention that a UK-wide petition on the Westminster parliament website secured 123,077 signatures in favour of banning driven grouse shooting and that a rival petition in support of grouse shooting secured a mere 25,322 signatures.

We also know that the National Trust has parted company with one of their grouse-shooting tenants in the Peak District because of a difference of opinion on how that land should be managed.  It remains to be seen whether a shooting tenant will be found to replace the exiting tenant or whether the NT will impose standards that grouse shooters cannot attain.

So, however much the GWCT might want to give the impression that there is nothing to see here, there is a lively public debate about how awful driven grouse shooting is, and a range of views about how those ills should be dealt with. Only the industry seems to be content that the status quo can remain.

None of this is evident from the GWCT booklet.

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14 Replies to “The Moorland Imbalance (1)”

  1. Mark - thank you for promoting this GWCT publication. Much appreciated. For the absence of doubt, it says on the front cover 'The Science Behind Grouse Shooting and Moorland Management' - so, as Mark explains, if you are looking for comment on e-petitions etc this is not the one for you. Best. Andrew

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    1. 'The Science Behind Grouse Shooting and Moorland Management' which would explain why it's such a very slim volume. Where is the science behind 'Conservation organisations want to ban it' I wonder? Is this 'book' as engrossing as 'Understanding Predation' which effectively said we'll ignore science if it's not to our liking?

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    2. How fatuous, there is no 'science' behind driven grouse shooting, just the mass destruction of any other native wildlife that has the temerity to include grouse on its menu, plus the artificial maintenance of a restricted habitat type which often leads to the destruction of wildlife rich blanket bogs.

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    3. Andrew - you're welcome. I hope you are RTing this post like mad on Twitter.

      I'm sure that if you felt that Inglorious was a poorly argued as I believe your booklet is then you'd be promoting my book!

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  2. It is actually Grouse Shooting which is making the case for the ban, not conservationists who want to stop the illegal persecution of raptors - to the point of extinction in England - and the destruction of the environment through over-intensive management. Grouse shooting has the opportunity to pout its house in order - maybe it could still avoid the chop - but, as in this booklet, is doing exactly the opposite - and every time it does it, the balance shifts from the various ways, like licensing, that might allow it to continue to the only logical conclusion, which is that only a ban will stop the abuse.

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    1. The #giftofgrouse just keeps on giving .... what next in their 'scientific' attempts or will we see more spin bowling after a toxic lead bbq with their supporters?

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  3. Has it lead to a jump in sales, Andrew? Andrew? You run off again, Andrew? Oh well, I guess thanks are due to you, your writings always have such a lovely tone about them (so lovely I seem to have adopted it). My education is letting me down again but there must be a name for it for such a convincingly built arguement, hmm....'sciencasm' is that it?

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  4. As Mark and many readers now know well, in terms of public awareness things have moved on so much over the last couple of years. Whereas previously when chatting to a member of the public, say a hillwalker in the Peak District, and the conversation got round to birds and then raptors (or, most likely, the absence of them) there is no longer the feeling 'oh, this might take a while to explain', rather it's 'fair chance we are already on the same page' and then the discussion moves rapidly to what can be done about it. As it goes, these are precisely the sort of unsolicited conversations I had just yesterday in one of the most notorious areas for raptor persecution in the Peak District. You know how it goes; you're stood with a pair of binoculars or a telescope and a passerby asks 'seen anything interesting?' and you reply 'well.....'. A key factor solidifying that change in awareness is the wall of denial from supporters of driven grouse shooting. So when the likes of GWCT say 'nothing to see here' people just think 'well you're right, I don't I see any raptors here' unlike other places they know well ('i've seen more birds of prey in my garden'), or 'what about that footage I've seen, or those court cases I've read about?'.

    Andrew Gillruth, Ian Botham (and, perhaps sadly when judged against some of his historical studies at least, Max Hastings) etc. might as well find themselves an old Iraqi Army uniform and put 'Chemical' in front of their name; when it comes to raptor persecution their denial not only sounds unfeasible but to increasing numbers of public downright ridiculous.

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  5. Seems to me that the grouse shooters are suffering from boiling frog syndrome. The water is slowly getting hotter, but they're continuing to just sit there. By the time they notice just how far public opinion has swung against them, it will be too late for them to hop out of the pot and avoid the consequences.

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