2019 will be another bad year for driven grouse shooting.

2019 will be another bad year for driven grouse shooting. Here are some of the reasons:

  • the long, long, long-awaited analysis of the NE Hen Harrier tagging data should be published soon. Getting these data published clearly hasn’t been as straightforward as the authors had hoped as back in mid-August they were hoping that the paper would be published in ‘a couple of months’ and now we are nearly a further 3 months on from those two months. It’s all a bit embarrassing for NE. But rumour has it that the paper shows what everyone expects it to show – the importance of illegal persecution on grouse moors in the population dynamics of Hen Harriers. Whenever the analysis is finally published it should silence the flannel from grouse shooting interests over the scale of wildlife crime on UK grouse moors. How will politicians react to what has been obvious for years once it is written large in the scientific literature? There is only so long that one can maintain a position of wilful ignorance. We’ll see.
  • The Werritty Review; this is due in spring – maybe only three months away. There are plenty of rumours about what will come out of it – and they range from ‘nothing’ to ‘everything’ so we’ll have to wait and see. Can Roseanna Cunningham get something meaningful through the Scottish Government or will Fergus Ewing win the battle of wills? It would be both shocking and remarkable if nothing at all happens, given the massive evidence of widespread wildlife crime in Scotland and the strong statements on this subject from Roseanna Cunningham. What will Werritty say, and what will the Scottish government do?
  • The RSPB in Scotland is showing some signs of determination to get the message across to the Scottish government on wildlife crime. Let’s hope that the excellent report of last month wasn’t just a flash in the pan. I suspect that RSPB advocacy staff in Scotland realise that they have a fight on their hands, that this is the best opportunity for change that they will see for quite a while and also that their constituency expect them to raise their game. It seems unlikely that the flaccid RSPB position south of the border will change very quickly – but you never know!
  • the new Chair of the currently utterly irrelevant National Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, Superintendent Nick Lyall, is showing some signs of being a new broom, but the Augean stables of raptor pesecution need one hell of a lot of cleaning. We wish Superintendent Lyall well.
  • there might be a general election this year – but there might not be! The Betfair odds make a general election in 2019 a greater chance than that in any other year between here and 2022 but we’ll see. A Labour government would not be good news for driven grouse shooting and I think we could well get an other 100,000+ signature petition for a ban of driven grouse shooting under those conditions.
  • a no-deal Brexit would be great news for the grouse-shooting industry – because environmental protection would immediately start to be chipped away. A no-deal Brexit is a distinct possibility ( although the odds with Ladbrokes are 3/1) but I would bet against it at the moment (although not much of my own money!). The longer we stay in the EU the more the mess of the uplands will remain a political embarrassment for the Westminster government.

Since the criminals in the grouse shooting industry aren’t going to mend their ways on their own (Why would they? They never have and they never will) then the only routes for progress are that politicians force change through stronger enforcement of current laws and stronger laws. For that to happen we need the right politicians in place and the right pressure on them to act. The pressure comes from the public (that’s you!) and civil society (eg wildlife conservation organisations).

The factors listed above can be thought of as windows on a one-armed bandit. They’ll all be spinning this year. It would be surprising if they all came up in the way we would wish – but some surely will and that will help shorten the existence of the pointless and damaging sport of shooting Red Grouse for fun. And we get to spin the wheels each year. I think it is certain that we will hit the jackpot soon.


25 Replies to “2019 will be another bad year for driven grouse shooting.”

  1. Yes it’s not looking good for grouse moors, pressure is piling up on all sides. Re the petition to get Westminster to commission an independent and comprehensive economic study of driven grouse shooting I experimented by contacting all the councillors (with email addresses) in one area that had grouse moors. There was only one response, but it was enthusiastic and as the signature count on the petition map jumped by one in that constituency it looks genuine. The councillor was a conservative. Even if the petition fails to hit the 10,000 mark (this time), that will be a little highpoint for me. Hopefully with only a month to go until the petition closes one of the big guns will step in to push it – just an official govt response is a serious result. The League Against Cruel Sports south of the border might be embarrassed into doing their job and supporting it and perhaps the RSBP will realise that endorsing the petition on their Skydancer Community blog was lovely and much appreciated, but not terribly useful on its own in getting signatures. Bit inconsistent to say something is worthwhile..then keep pretty quiet about it. IF the 10,000 target can be hit by the Feb 2nd, we can add the government having to acknowledge there is no substantiated case for DGS receiving public subsidy to the list of problems grouse moors will face this year.

  2. I too fully expect that 2019 will be a bad year for driven grouse shooting, but it may also be a bad year for those who seek to protect the organised criminals who run many estates. Interesting times, indeed.

    1. Why don’t you all just foxtrot Oscar. I can’t believe that any sane person can believe this bullshit. Grouse shooting is wonderful and most of you urbanite vegans have no knowledge of it. Those of you who do eat meat (and I have to say that in my opinion Avery never looks underfed) are probably eating farmed chicken which is killed by gassing. Happy meat such as red grouse tastes much better.
      There would not be any red grouse if not for the estates. Followers of this website would probably prefer thousands of raptors but the question then arises: “What would they feed on?” As usual the question will be ducked by those of you who do not know what you are talking about so I will repeat it. In the absence of red grouse what will hen harriers and other moorland raptors feed on? The answer is that they will starve to death due to lack of food. In Ireland there are reports that buzzards have been raiding sparrow hawk nests which are quite easy to locate as young hungry sparrow hawk chicks are extremely noisy. All you followers of Avery would do better to pack up your tents and go home.

      1. Now – thank you for your first comment here. You’re a charmer. Please make some more.

      2. Hello “Joe” obviously not your real name, your lack of knowledge concerning Raptors (for your benefit “The word raptor is derived from “rapere,” a Latin word which means to seize or capture. More specifically, a raptor is a bird of prey. … There are three distinguishing traits that make raptors different from other birds: hooked beaks with sharp edges. feet with sharp, curved claws or talons.” )
        Buzzard will attempt to kill Sparrowhawk chicks any time not as a last resort due to starvation.
        Raptors will eat field voles, meadow pipits and skylarks. More unusual items of prey have included, small rabbits and stoats. They are more likely to kill grouse when numbers are artificially high on Grouse Moors

  3. Will be watching all these good points you make Mark with great interest. Let’s all hope they come up “Good” for the Hen harriers and all our other persecuted moorland wildlife and really bad for those who like and support killing our wildlife for the fun of it.

  4. In the old days a few years ago it was seen that to solve the problem of grouse moor raptor persecution the way forward was to talk with the grouse shooters. We all now know that got us nowhere and in not so much of a hurry. I can well remember a keeper saying to me ” we are keeping you talking while the bloody harrier problem is being solved our way and they will soon be gone.” In many ways it was a painful pointless process, but we learnt. That sort of official conversation with the shooters continues at DEFRA etc but is now seen for what it is an irrelevance, as mar k say they will not indeed probably cannot change.
    Other things have and are overtaking those conversations, they offer exciting change and that offers real hope that the days of grouse moors are numbered. We however should not slacken our efforts in making that happen.

    1. It’s been great seeing that the campaign to get rid of grouse shooting on YW properties is stressing it’s poor from an economics\jobs perspective and there are far better alternatives. I don’t know how the grouse moors can credibly challenge that, their minions try to rubbish it of course, but their comments are little more than hollow insults and have an air of desperation about them that does their paltry cause more harm than good. It should be even easier to get across to the general public why DGS is bad for rural jobs than why it’s terrible for conservation, and both points will compliment each other. I can’t see how the jobs theme won’t be a permanent element of the anti DGS campaign from now on and that’s a fantastic development!

  5. More drivel from the man who would see everywhere devoid of life bar badgers foxes and hooked beaks and what then? Once the predators have eaten the prey are they going to become vegans? No. They will die out and years will pass while the prey species re establish! Perhaps Averys jealousy will extend to trying to get tweeds and Range rovers banned!

    1. Will Fenn – thank you so much for your comment. Why would I want tweeds banned – I’d have to throw away a couple of perfectly good jackets?

    2. Utter tripe, a 5 year old I know has a better grasp of both reality and predator prey relationships.

      1. I’m afraid you’re right. When the conservative councillor signed the petition it meant as far as I am aware the Conservatives gave it higher level support than Labour did, in spite of the fact that a series of northern England Labour MPs publicly spoke out against grouse shooting last year. It certainly wasn’t from a lack of me contacting Labour Party local branches. I get the feeling the petition didn’t have ‘Product of the Labour Party’ stamped on it so they couldn’t be arsed.

  6. The campaign to get Yorkshire Water to stop leasing their land for Grouse shooting is an interesting one.Here we have a major landowner who profess to having an excellent environmental record having to defend the Grouse shooting industry.From their communication with me as a customer they haven’t so much defended it as stated they need to keep the Grouse shooting estates happy so they can work with them.This begs the question (which I have asked them ) does the D.G.S industry have Y.W over a barrel ? Bradford Council made the decision that D.G.S was having a negative impact on Ilkley Moor and are now banning it. Yorkshire Water are going to have to seriously look at why they think it is acceptable to support it. I would urge anyone who lives in Yorkshire to put pressure on Y.W, right now they are listening !

  7. Meanwhile, let’s hope for at least a moderate amount of shooting, especially on the moors that
    supported breeding harriers last year, and hopefully will do so again, along with a few more
    progressive thinking tenants / owners.
    Also, I need to get my freezer stocked up, after last season’s shortage.

  8. Happy New Year Mark (and all other readers/contributors). I think you’re right about 2019 being a bad year for DGS. I’m hopeful about the outcome of the Werritty Report. After all, it was prompted by the research paper on sat-tagged golden eagles so it has to fix that as a minimum, surely.

    I’m however not at all convinced that if there was a general election in 2019 and if a Labour govt was elected, I still think that it would make little, if any difference to BoP persecution. Where has the Labour leadership shown any interest in this subject. If they were to be elected they’ll be too busy trying to find a coherent Brexit position to have time for a peripheral subject like ours.

    I think our best hope is with Werritty and Roseanna showing the way in Scotland.

    But we carry on regardless.

    Again, Happy New Year.

  9. More hilarious pig-ignorance from wildlife abusers. Do they really believe the crap they parrot, or are they just pathological liars?

  10. The most interesting development in 2019 will be the progress of the Revive coalition launched in Scotland in the Autumn. It intends to further develop the wider social, economic and environmental case against grouse moors and it brings an effective parliamentary presence. Its launch may explain the suddenly more robust approach of the RSPB in Scotland,which is constrained in addressing most of these issues and may therefore begin look less relevant, particularly since it appears to have reduced its investigations team in Scotland and therefore weakened its most important contribution. You would hope that after decades as the lone organisation fighting the raptor case that the RSPB will hang in there.

  11. Did you hear Ian Gregory on BBC Radio 4’s “The Media Show” discussing “The Art of Public Relations” yesterday?

    Nothing particularly relevant; grouse shooting wasn’t discussed but interesting to hear how such stories are spun. Relevant to the recent article about the RSPB on the Guido site, Gregory mentioned he was making more use of this site as it was the most read political site within Westminster.

    1. Jeff – yes I did. i ws wondering whether to blog about it but there wasn’t quite enough for me to gt my teeth into!

  12. I found it mildly amusing that a load of Toffees go off into the highlands with .12 bore shotgun’s to shoot Grouse with Skeet Cartridges. I guess they don’t mind the flavour of tainted bird meat mixed with lead shot destroying there dentures. I’ve shot ruffed grouse myself with a .22 air-rifle and it only took 1 pellet. Which speaks volumes about a shooters capability to hit something without peppering it with lead.

  13. As one who takes part in ‘DGS’ all I am seek is a balanced approach from both sides of the equation. I would be the first to stand up and deride anyone from mucking around with birds of prey. Medicated grit and an understanding of ticks can more than make up for grouse lost to natural predators. I – and many of my ilk – would not shoot on a moor where illegal practices were occurring and those of us who do shoot need to be active about shaming those who practice arcane and anti-social methods of looking after their moors. The vast majority of land owners and people who participate in DGS are not monsters and are actually committed custodians of the land and heavily into conservation and the environment…..and write large checks that back up their conviction. The world is moving on from the bad old days: each generation of moor owners and gamekeepers is better than the last.

    What really ruffles the feathers (forgive the pun) of those involved in DGS is that much of what is written by those against it – here and elsewhere – appears to be more about conducting a class war and/or promoting a town Vs country war than about the welfare of the animals concerned. And those who deride those who shoot and eat grouse, other gamebirds and line-caught fish are themselves being utterly hypocritical as many of them will be eating meat and fish themselves, but chose to be blind to the horrors of the intensive farming of chickens, salmon etc etc. I’d rather live in the wild and be shot rather suddenly than live in a cage or densely packed coup and then strangled or gassed. And I don’t know how those living in towns can put up with the dirt, grime, crime and homelessness…..probably in much the same way that you cannot understand why I like living in the sticks and eating what I shoot and catch. But I acknowledge that we are different and we need lots of different people to create a successful society.

    So….DGS and moorland management conducted in a modern and slightly more sympathetic way than practiced by our fathers and grandfathers can be good for the wider environment, good for a very wide and diverse number of animals, good for local employment and the economy in some very blighted areas….and ensures the land is looked after at minimal cost to the tax payer.

    Please, continue to highlight bad and illegal practices: they need to be driven out where they still exist. BUT, please also recognise that those who try to ban it altogether look as shortsighted and as ignorant of the facts as the dinosaurs within DGS who haven’t mended their and their employees ways!

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