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A tale of two halves for this year’s grouse

Grouse moor managers report a buoyant season in northern England but poor weather in Scotland made for trickier days by comparison.

The grouse season ended on a high note on this month, despite early fears that shooting would be curtailed due to poor breeding in the north of England. 

Rural communities celebrated the substantial economic boost that grouse shooting supports, as small businesses including pubs, hotels and transport services enjoyed a buoyant four months between 12 August and the final day of the season. Mark Cunliffe-Lister, chair of the Moorland Association, said: “There is not a rural community in these areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business that is generated through estate work year-round.”

Charles Cody, landlord of the Charles Bathurst Inn in Arkengarthdale, said: “This year the availability of grouse has been particularly strong. The abundance of birds has meant that groups attracted to the Dales for shooting has extended well into November, with estates adding extra days, which is a welcome boost to the local economy at this time of year.” 

Grouse moor managers invest £52.5m each year, directly supporting 1,500 jobs. In addition to the permanent estate staff employed year-round, each shoot day provides work for between 30 and 50 people on average. 

Mr Cody added: “The management of the moors by estates plays an important role throughout the year in maintaining the beauty of the moors, the heather and the wildlife habitat. Shooting also helps to underwrite employment in the area, helping to retain working-age people in an area struggling to retain its communities, which benefits us all.”

Upland keeper Lindsay Waddell told ST the season in England ended up more like a traditional year but remarked that moors in Scotland struggled in comparison.

“The so-called doom of a poor season must be balanced with the huge numbers a few years ago, which wrecked the market for dead birds. It is all a matter of perspective regarding what is a good season these days. It did, in the end, provide a decent season for beaters, pickers-up, loaders and everyone associated with grouse shooting,” said Mr Waddell. 

“Sadly, Scotland was not quite so lucky. The problem most moors had was that the weather during the season was poor, which made cropping whatever surplus there was very difficult. Some moors have too many birds left for a healthy outcome next year, if the winter goes against them.”