The list has identified 1,149 species and 65 habitats in the UK as being in need of conservation and greater protection.

Alex Hogg of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association welcomed the fact that red grouse is now a priority species.

He said: “Thanks to careful management, including predator control, carried out by professional wildlife managers – management that is paid for by sporting interests – the red grouse continues to battle for survival as a species against such odds as the weather, tick and an over abundance of protected predators.”

A spokesperson for Defra emphasised that adding the quarry species to the list (which already includes black grouse, grey partridge and the brown hare) does not have any direct impact on shooters.

However he pointed out that it is possible that shooting may be identified as a reason for a population decline in a given species: “If this is the case, any future action plans that may be targeted for species might identify a need to address any significant adverse impact from shooting.”

The rest of this story will appear in the 6 September edition of Shooting Times.

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For more information visit UK BAP