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Grouse moors report mixed shooting fortunes

At the end of the 2009 grouse shooting season, reports from moorland keepers are remarkably varied, with some recording record bags and others reporting devastating outbreaks of strongylosis.

The Countryside Alliance?s (CA) moorland policy offi cer Adrian Blackmore said: ?Some moors have had yet another excellent year with record bags being achieved. This was particularly true of several moors in the North Pennines. The Peak District has also had an excellent year, again with some record bags, after a run of some pretty lean ones.?

BASC?s northern regional director Phil Pugh concurred: ?The general feeling is that this has been a good season with bag numbers holding up to expectations and in some areas there was even the odd record day.?

However, some keepers have experienced severe outbreaks of strongylosis, with up to 80% of birds dying and shooting days being cancelled.

Shooting Times contributor, Lindsay Waddell, is headkeeper at Raby estate, County Durham.

He said: ?It has been a very odd season. Strongyle worms have undoubtedly had an effect in this area. There is a strip of 20 to 30 miles running east to west across the Pennines which suffered from the worm. This was probably due to a high number of birds last season coinciding with some appalling weather, which left too many birds on the moors.?

Mr Waddell added that Raby estate, which is in the middle of the strip, managed to avoid the worst of the worm.

?Our estate is currently being used as a test site for new medicated grit by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, with alternate plain and medicated grit beats. Though our final count is well down on previous seasons, we did manage to shoot 1,000 brace or so from about 20 days? shooting. Keepers had abundant grouse only a short distance to the north and south of the affected strip.?

Edward Bromet, chairman of the Moorland Association, added that after much speculation earlier in the year, grouse shooting has not been affected by the recession.

?Commercial days were let quite easily and prices were maintained, which helps to fund the crucial ongoing management of moorland. The Derbyshire moors shot 12,000 brace between them and have had some of the best bags since the 1930s. The increase in the grouse population here is testimony to the commitment of grouse moor managers, especially given increasing pressures from high visitor numbers to the Peak District National Park.?

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