If driven grouse shooting were all it’s cracked up to be then you’d think that local people would be its greatest supporters. Well, they aren’t! It seems as though the inhabitants of Chelsea and Fulham are its strongest supporters – those who whizz in to a grouse moor for a while, shoot, and leave?
If we look at the number of signatures on the two rival e-petitions (Gavin Gamble’s excellent e-petition calling for a ban, and the mysterious Jane Griggs’s e-petition saying that all is fine) from English upland constituencies which have driven grouse moors within them (my estimates – there may be one or two missed – please let me know) then this is what we find:
|#signatures for banning grouse shooting||#signatures in favour of grouse shooting|
|Skipton and Ripon||155||217|
|Berwick upon Tweed||104||96|
|Scarborough and Whitby||95||59|
|Penrith and the Border||123||48|
|Westmorland and Lonsdale||155||42|
|North West Durham||70||28|
|Lancaster and Fleetwood||95||25|
|Middlesborough South and East Cleveland||59||23|
|Morecambe and Lunesdale||70||13|
|Penistone and Stocksbridge||110||11|
|Stalybridge and Hyde||50||1|
|Oldham East and Saddleworth||38||2|
Well, that’s hardly local endorsement for intensive grouse shooting is it? It’s noticeable that the disparity in feeling is very, very high in the Peak District, and of course in the Calder Valley where locals blame increased damaging floods on moorland management. Of 26 constituencies, only three show a majority in favour of grouse shooting. Hardly a groundswell of support, is it?
But let’s take the next few days to increase the numbers of signatures calling for a ban even more please. Please sign Gavin Gamble’s e-petition calling for an end to driven grouse shooting today – it closes on Easter Monday and you might forget if you don’t do it now. Many thanks.
I work as a Ranger in Aberdeenshire, where much of my time is spent delivering environmental education programmes in which I take school children out into semi-natural habitats (we don’t really have any natural habitats in the UK, hence we use the term semi-natural) and teach them about different aspects of Scotland’s ecology.
In the photo I am standing in a grouse butt at an elevation of 400m in the Cairngorms National Park, the summit of Lochnagar is behind me to the south (this should give you a clue as to whose estate I am on!). Notice the bare burnt patch in the heather on the right behind me. If I were at the same elevation and latitude (570N) in Scandinavia, Russia, or North America there would be a natural treeline higher up the hill and I would be surrounded by birch forest or small pines and spruces. In much of highland Scotland, however, we have an un-natural, devastated ecological wasteland, made largely as a result of historical overgrazing by sheep and deer, and now maintained by muirburn, a management practice with the sole aim of artificially increasing the numbers of red grouse at the expense of natural ecological succession and to the detriment of habitats such as montane woodland and other species such as ring ouzels, black grouse, wheatears, reptiles, invertebrates, mosses and higher plants other than Ling heather.
As a young and naive biology student many years ago, I was shocked to learn in an introductory ecology lecture that there was considered to be less than 1km of natural treeline left in Britain. This was to be found at 600m at Creag Fhiachlach near Loch an Eilein on the other side of the Cairngorms. I’d grown up with the romantic notion of Scotland’s natural grandeur, so this revelation came as a bit of a surprise. Happily, since then, field trips and holiday travel have taken me to North America and Scandinavia where I have been able to experience a relatively more intact natural boreal forest ecology.
Today, thanks to conservation bodies and some far-sighted landowners, these valuable upland woodlands are regenerating in places like Glen Feshie, Abernethy, Creag Meagaidh and Ben Eighe. It is wonderful to think that the next generation of ecology students won’t get taught that depressing statistic of the lack of natural treeline in Scotland. However far too much of the Scottish uplands are still not managed with conservation as a priority and driven grouse shooting is a major reason for this lack of progress. It is time to ban it.
Ruth Peacey, wildlife film maker who was voted Birdwatch magazine’s conservation hero of 2017 by readers, says:
‘I support the banning of driven grouse shooting because I am sick of hearing about the loss of so many birds of prey on or near these areas. These animals aren’t just “mysteriously disappearing”, they are being illegally killed to protect grouse in unnaturally high numbers. I think it is totally wrong that when people visit national parks, like the Cairngorms, they are unlikely to see hen harriers and golden eagles simply because they are the natural predators of a creature other people want to kill anyway.’
To join Ruth Peacey, please sign Gavin Gamble’s e-petition which calls for a ban on driven grouse shooting.
Dominic Dyer is CEO of the Badger Trust and says:
‘Driven grouse shooting involves huge cruelty to red grouse, has a significant negative impact on the environment and leads to the illegal persecution of endangered hen harriers and other raptors and the widespread killing of ground predators including badgers, foxes and stoats
There can be no justification for allowing this so-called sport to continue and I fully support calls for it to be banned.‘
To join Dominic Dyer, please sign Gavin Gamble’s e-petition which calls for a ban on driven grouse shooting.
David Lindo, author and ‘urban birder’ says:
‘I think that it is a national embarrassment that driven grouse shooting is still being allowed to persist at the expense of our precious Hen Harriers. Please sign this new e-petition to ban this outdated and useless form of hunting.’
To join David Lindo, please sign Gavin Gamble’s e-petition which calls for a ban on driven grouse shooting.