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Grouse days targeted by hunt saboteur groups

A number of shoots in the Yorkshire Dales were halted due to the presence of protestors, despite efforts from police to disperse the sabs

grouse moor

Hunt sabs from all over the country converged on a number of grouse moors in Yorkshire

Activists from all over the country targeted several shoots in Coverdale and Nidderdale, with a number of saboteurs disrupting a shooting party on Braithwaite Moor near East Witton. West Yorkshire Hunt Saboteurs claimed they were able to stop the shoots “with ease”. After targeting a shoot at Heathfield Moor, Nidderdale, the group said in a post on social media: “As is tradition on the Glorious Twelfth, sab groups from all over the country were out in force and we found our first target early on.”

Posting on their website soon after the protests, the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) had members from Somerset, Wiltshire, Nottingham and Yorkshire providing pictures of themselves interrupting shoots and posing in grouse butts after the shooters had left the scene.

The HSA detailed their tactics, involving specialist spotting units out across much of upland Britain from daybreak. They went on to boast of the number of shoots all over Nidderdale that they were able to bring to a complete standstill in the name of wildlife.

Recent research by the GWCT showed that Yorkshire grouse moors supported four times as many curlew and significantly higher numbers of other waders than similar unmanaged landscapes. Upland gamekeeper Lindsay Waddell commented: “There is no doubt that the sight of sabs makes the keepers’ hearts sink, as no good can come out of it. If there is damage to butts and other infrastructure, seldom is anyone charged.

“It is simply a case of making sure everyone is safe, especially those with guns as there is always a risk of damage to firearms.”

Saboteurs bragged of their attempts to foil police trying to peacefully disperse them to avoid any clashes or further trouble. One post said that despite police attempts at dispersal, “sabs held their positions throughout the day”.

In a statement on the start of the grouse shooting season, the Moorland Association said: “Sustainable grouse moor management leads to essential income for the protection of our beautiful uplands and is responsible for over 1,500 jobs in the heart of the countryside. Every day of shooting is a bonus for the local economy.”

The saboteurs were largely dressed in black with their faces covered. They appeared more like militias than conservationists, and they referred to the hardworking men and women of the beating line as “lackeys”.

An HSA spokesperson at the scene of the shoot shut down in Braithwaite ominously commented: “Our campaign against the 2023 grouse shooting season has only just begun.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.