Grouse petitions – they’re just like buses


There are now three e-petitions about grouse shooting on the Westminster parliament website:

  1. Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting, ends 2 April, currently on 19,700 signatures
  2. Jane Griggs’s e-petition in support of grouse shooting, ends 24 May, currently on 7,600 signatures
  3. Ed Hutchings’s e-petition in support of licensing, the third option, the middle way, ends 15 June, currently on 25 signatures

There is a clear choice for you – the status quo of damaging management underpinned by wildlife crime (the Griggs petition) or a complete cessation of this inglorious activity (the Gamble petition) or the middle way (the Hutchings petition).

I wouldn’t recommend that anyone signs the Griggs petition (though do read it – it is quite enlightening) but I have signed the other two, and with pleasure.

I want to see driven grouse shooting banned, but recognise that the best way to get that is to keep on asking for it but to accept licensing as a step on the way. And it is a real possibility in Scotland in the near future – so we should support it.  If licensing works, I doubt very much that it could, then that’s fine. And if licensing doesn’t work, then a ban is the next, almost unavoidable  option.

If you aren’t quite as hard-core as I am on this subject then you might see licensing as the sensible end point. I disagree, but it’s a perfectly respectable position which is shared by the RSPB and, perhaps, the Wildlife Trusts. In that case you should sign the Hutchings petition, obviously. But you should also sign the Gamble petition because the best way of getting licensing is to ask for it but show that there is a real appetite and public desire to see driven grouse shooting cease altogether.

If you want a ban then sign up for it (but also sign up for licensing).

If you want licensing then sign up for it (but also sign up for a ban).

If you want the status quo – this might not be the blog for you…


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27 Replies to “Grouse petitions – they’re just like buses”

  1. I think the logic outlined at the end of your blog piece is exactly right.
    The big question is - will the RSPB put their considerable weight behind the petition that supports their own stated position, but which might upset some shooters and landowners? Could be a test of their backbone!

    1. Alan - not could be - is!!

      It's encouraging that a number of small RSPB Twitter accounts have already supported the licensing petition but it remains to be seen whether those will be joined in any meaningful way by the RSPB machine.

  2. We need a fourth, to license all game shooting since raptor crime is everywhere as the maps show
    It isn't likely to happen soon but there is a good argument for a fifth.

      1. These petitions on the government site are all reaching the same audience. The government must be very happy that this irksome problem is contained and not reaching a wider audience.
        When in a battle, do what your enemy would least like, namely, reach out to the millions that haven't got a clue about the issue.
        If there are to be more petitions, then let them be seen by a different set of people. Online sites such as, Sum of Us and 38 degrees all reach the parts that government petitions don't.
        Yes it's 'more bloody petitions' but it's also more publicity, and that's exactly what the tories fear most.
        We live in a country of animal lovers so why not use that fact to our advantage.

        1. Very good point if the general public knew the disgusting activities perpetuated in our countryside every day they would be appalled. The criminals dismiss them as townies that don't understand the countryside and its quaint traditions of poisoning ,shooting, trapping, chasing animals to exhaustion them tearing them apart, in short inflicting any amount of pain for their own gratification ." Its traditional don't you know , has to be done to keep the balance of nature , oh and I almost forgot its good fun and makes me feel like a big man". What these townies do understand however is wanton cruelty ,criminality and would hold people who kill for fun in total disdain.

        2. I think this is a good idea, Paul.
          Avaaz also is worth considering. They get huge numbers of signatories.

          1. I completely agree with the above. I read earlier today that the 'most shared' political issue last week was animal sentience. There is a huge untapped reservoir of public opinion that is revolted by all forms of animal abuse. Most of them have little idea of what actually goes on the countryside, but are turned off both by fine distinctions like between 'driven' and 'walked-up', and by people who say that they've got nothing against shooting in general.
            I can understand Mark wanting to focus his fire on one of the rarest of raptors and probably the most extreme form of shooting. I guess the hope is that 'divide and conquer' will operate, with moderate shooters turning against the more rabid elements. Time will tell.
            Personally, I'd like to see all forms of shooting licensed (or banned). I'm amazed that anyone who feels like it can dump any number of non-native pheasants and partridges (with a few almost irrelevant exceptions) into the countryside and ignore the consequences.

  3. I've signed the licensing petition, but I'm worried it's a distraction from the obvious need for a ban - a split vote is likely to prove a weak vote. As for the RSPB, I fail to understand its reluctance to engage more visibly and actively on this issue - whatever its position.

    Yes, it's a difficult and politically charged subject, but at the end of the day the protection of threatened birds of prey surely has to take precedence over keeping influential stakeholders happy. The RSPB should be leading the debate and setting the rules of engagement - not worrying about which way the wind blows.

    1. Most likely reason is that you haven't clicked on the email they send to confirm. Could have gone to your spam box.

      1. Never got response email in spam box or anywhere. Checked email address correct. Tried again this morning (3rd time)- no response email to click. Have changed address and postcode since last signing a Govt. petition. Would this make a difference?

        1. Well, of course it shouldn't do so - but I guess it might. Perhaps you could test it by selecting a petition you can support; maybe the one on balloon releases. Enter your new details first and see if you get the email. If you don't try your old details next. Getting an email for the second but not the first would indicate a problem.

  4. I am now starting to struggle with all these approaches. Is it only me or does anyone else see an issue with the word 'driven'.

    We have Mark's approach wishing to ban driven grouse shooting and a petition seeking to licence driven grouse shooting. Even the RSPB seems to vary between suggesting grouse shooting should be licensed and suggesting driven grouse shooting should be licensed.

    Both 'driven' approaches seem to accept that other forms of grouse shooting are not an issue.

    I just see the scenario of a grouse moor where 30 beaters drive birds towards 10 static guns being banned whilst the next moor using the same intensive management techniques but have a walked up approach with 20 beaters and 20 guns not being banned because it is not defined as 'driven'.

    The main areas are clearly the unlawful killing of birds of prey, excessive killing of hares and predators, excessive drying out of the moorland, flooding etc. To deal with all those the only outcome (and the strongest one) I can see working is to ban all grouse shooting and then allow estates to apply for licences to shoot having demonstrated they can do so without impacting on all the above areas.

    1. "I just see the scenario of a grouse moor where 30 beaters drive birds towards 10 static guns being banned whilst the next moor using the same intensive management techniques but have a walked up approach with 20 beaters and 20 guns not being banned because it is not defined as 'driven'."

      I think that would still count as driven shooting as the birds are still being driven towards the guns, IIRC and from my own observations on the local moor walked up shooting involves a very small group of people, probably no more than 5 (I've only seen 2 at a time) walking around the moor with a couple of dogs shooting at any grouse flushed by the dogs.

    2. The presence of beaters is what makes driven shooting driven. Banning driven grouse means banning beaters.

  5. Interesting! I just looked at Jane Griggs petition and found by checking the dataset from the link at the bottom that it has gained support in Uruguay, Tuvalu, Monaco, Australia, Burma and a number of other places not generally associated with Grouse shooting! Presumably these are diligent ex-pats determined to defend the rural way of life here in the UK??

    1. Not sure if that's right. I am as unteccie as you can get but it looks to me like a complete list of MPs. Can't really think that Dennis Skinner would sign it.
      Are we looking at different things?

    2. Or visitors flying in to direct lead shot into a driven grouse on it's last flight, staying on for a few days, then flying home again. Quite likely clients contacted directly to sign in an effort to show the "importance" of he industry in attracting foreign high spending visitors

  6. Some years ago, on my local RSPB reserve, when requesting some minor trimming of bushes etc for better viewing, my friends were told that the reserve is for the benefit of the birds, not the watchers. So why is the RSPB not fully behind a ban on ALL destruction of birds in ALL areas of the UK? The idea that it might upset some people doesn't wash with me. When you see how a legal ban on fox hunting is rarely implemented by the authorities, is there any hope that licensing laws will be enforced rigorously? The answer IMHO is a complete ban on shooting and hunting followed by acquisition of the vacated land (at existing use values excluding any premium for the shooting rights) and management of it by conservation organisations for the benefit of wildlife and people.

  7. In reply to Bob Philpott.
    A moor primarily run for walked up shooting, such as many in Sutherland or Caithness, would not normally have the necessary investment for the more intensive levels of management, staffing, etc.
    Nor would they be able to fund teams of beaters on a given shooting day, usually a keeper and maybe a couple of dog handlers.

    1. Oh yes I forgot about the huge amounts of investments the upper classes pour into our beleaguered countryside , employing a few keepers at below the the working wage and beaters paid by by back handers and a can of lager. The subsidies that these estates receive is enough to pay for all the wages and the diesel and the cartridges, so for nothing they get a nice little day out , their egos massaged and a few caps doffed by the grateful peasants.
      Investment My arse.
      And before you try and tell me that the rural economy needs this pathetic input, if your like did not keep vast expanses of my country in a state of complete degradation there would many ,many ,many opportunities for so many people. Rather than the few crumbs that fall from our betters"" table.


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