The wider conservation benefits of grouse shooting are not fully appreciated by the British public, according to new independent research published on 6 July by a coalition of rural and conservation groups.

The survey of 1,004 adults was carried out by Opinion Business Research for the Countryside Alliance, the Moorland Association (MA) and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO).

Worryingly, more than half of the respondents wrongly believed that conservation charities and Government agencies do the most work to look after moors. In fact, in England, 90 per cent of heather moorland is conserved by gamekeepers, who are privately funded through driven grouse shooting. The survey also showed that less than half of those asked have heard of important moorland birds such as red grouse, or understand that heather is actively managed by keepers.

The MA’s chairman Edward Bromet explained that more needs to be done to educate the public: “The red grouse is totally dependent on heather moorland and is unique to Britain. However, less than half of the people asked realised that the bird is not artificially reared and is completely wild.” He added: “More needs to be done to help explain that it is grouse shooting that maintains our threatened heather moorland and the important wildlife it supports. Natural England, National Park Authorities and other public bodies should be doing more to correct misconceptions about who does all the work and foster a true understanding and better enjoyment of heather moorlands.”

The rest of this article appears in 9th July issue of Shooting Times.

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