Inglorious 12th

Red Grouse. Photo: Tim Melling

In two months time, on Monday 12 August, the grouse shooting season will open. This is a land use whose days are numbered.

Intensive grouse shooting is underpinned by wildlife crime and that wildlife crime is widespread. Remember the long-term study of Peregrines across the north of England which shows that their numbers and nesting success are lower on grouse moors than on areas not managed for grouse shooting? And this year we finally had the analysis of the Natural England satellite-tagging study of Hen Harriers which showed that a Hen Harrier’s risk of death was ten times higher in grouse moor areas than elsewhere. A pointless hobby of killing birds for fun, which needs protected wildlife removed illegally from where it operates, cannot survive for much longer.

And yet this Conservative adminstration sits still and does nothing (except enthusiastically promotes brood-meddling which is opposed by conservationists) and continues to work hard for a reintroduction of Hen Harriers in southern England (which is opposed by conservationists, both home and abroad (Natural England are spending another year struggling to source any birds from abroad) instead of tackling the issue. In fact Therese Coffey, the minister responsible for saving our biodiversity, has barely mentioned or acknowledged that Hen Harrier persecution is a problem that she should solve.

Therese Coffey chats to grouse moor managers. Photo: Natural England

The day before the grouse shooting season opens there is a Hen Harrier Day rally at Carsington Water in Derbyshire, organised by Wild Justice.

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11 Replies to “Inglorious 12th”

  1. What a disgrace this Government is.
    As you rightly say Mark intensive grouse shooting is. in most cases, associated with not only the illegal killing of birds of prey but also the killing of any other form of wildlife eg. mountain hares, that in the view of the shooters might pose a threat to their grouse and hence to their money and profits. On top of all this the distorted management of our moorlands by the grouse shooters is severely damaging the natural habitat.
    Clearly this Government will go to all lengths to preserve their vested interests in shooting our upland wildlife for the fun of it. Ms Coffey must rank as one of the worst ministers for wildlife that this country has ever had.
    The issue is to STOP this illegal behaviour by the shooters not to “pussy foot “ around with brood meddling and Hen Harrier relocation so that the shooters can carry on their illegal activities and their desecration of OUR upland moorlands all for the sake of money..

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    1. Again this is total hypocrisy regarding mountain hares and other wildlife killed to preserve commercial interests. Why isnt anyone concerned about the mass killing of insects to protect cereal crops? As I have said before, living things are killed/culled (legally) everyday to ensure people ( yes remember humans!?!?) can grow food, have business enterprises which support jobs and other industry etc etc. Why is this an issue?

      The point on raptor persecution is another one and the bad practices of the minority cannot be used to destroy the livelihoods of law abiding people.

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      1. S - shabby. Who says no-one cares about insects? And in any case no-one has to care about everything to care about siomething.

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      2. Did you miss all of the recent discussion across the media of "insectageddon" S? Many people are seriously concerned about the state of insect populations and the various factors that are threatening them, including intensive agriculture. You are attacking a straw man.

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      3. Hardly hypocrisy, many of us do our utmost to avoid unnecessary deaths of insects as much as anything else, not easy admittedly but we try and those who are doing the spraying etc. at least are not breaking the law.
        On the other hand the distribution of vacant, failed and damaged Peregrine nest sites on upland grouse moors and that of disappeared Satellite tagged Hen Harriers in England and golden Eagles in Scotland show the lie of your claim of minority. Most do it, as a an ex WCO policeman said the only keepers who don't kill harriers are those without the opportunity, all know who is doing it and they all in their terms benefit from the criminality. They are the true hypocrites along with their knowing apologists.

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      4. Grouse moors are man made ecological disasters, similar areas in Norway abound with wild flowers, insects, animals etc. The big difference is that trees and other flora are allowed to regenerate. Norwegians shoot grouse on these areas and there is never or rarely problems with raptors. Norway is also different in that they do not allow "toffs"to buy huge vast areas of land.

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  2. In all of this we must not forget the grouse themselves. In a fun shooting spree by the shooters no doubt more grouse are severely injured by shot then are killed out right. To use an old quotation “ them that is killed out right are the lucky ones”.
    What a very rotten business the whole grouse shooting industry is, and strongly supported by an equally rotten Government.

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    1. Whilst I would agree that the terrible tragedy that is modern intensive DGS has to go I cannot accept that more grouse a wounded badly than killed. Having been involved slightly in DGS between 1988-96 I can say few that are wounded are not picked up and most seem to be killed outright. I can on one occasion seeing a gun have 17 shots with 17 grouse dead on the ground. Although on another occasion a gun had many shots in a day and to the chagrin of his loader killed one bird, a case of misID a racing pigeon!

      Whilst it is well known now about the carnage amongst Hen Harriers and Peregrine we must also remember that Goshawk is heavily hit and is now virtually extinct in the Yorkshire Dales NP, the Nidderdale and Bowland AONBs and the Durham Dales. Short-eared Owl appears much reduced ( remember Tim Cowin and he is by far not alone). Indeed there are probably no predators nesting on or near DG moorland that are not negatively affected.
      Then there are all the management issues with peat forming or not as the case usually is ( great carbon sink) damaged by burning, the burning of blanket bog, track making, flooding and coloured water.
      DGS proponents will tell you about waders too but at RSPB Dove Stone numbers of Curlew, Golden Plover and Dunlin increased markedly without predator control.
      DGS claims predator control( Corvids, mustelids and Fox) help waders they probably do but does the high density of Grouse, Pheasants in surrounding woods and uncontrolled Rabbits ( due to mustelid and fox control) constantly attract in high numbers of non-territorial meso predators? Not a question I expect GWCT to elucidate!
      DGS has to go, the sooner the better biodiversity in our uplands would in the medium to long term improve, look at the lower Norwegian Fells to see this or open heat in northern Sweden and land prices would not be artificially inflated by Red Grouse bags.

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