Westminster has reaffirmed its support for shooting sports and rejected recent calls to license driven grouse shoots as a way of tackling raptor persecution.
The Government has highlighted the importance of shooting and said it has no intention to licence driven grouse shooting after responding to an online petition.
The petition, which received the support of the RSPB, said that licensing was a “middle way” between an outright ban and doing nothing, which would “help end poor practice on uplands managed for driven grouse shooting” preventing “environmental damage and illegal killing of raptors”.
But the Government said that it has “no plans to license grouse moors nor to introduce vicarious liability in England for offences related to wildlife crime”.
It explained: “The introduction of such new regulation would require evidence that it will be effective. We are not aware of compelling evidence that the introduction of such provisions would have a significant deterrent effect on those who persecute wildlife.”
The Defra response to the petition continued by emphasising its support for shooting sports: “The Government appreciates that many people have strongly held views on grouse shooting.
The Government also recognises that shooting activities bring many benefits to the rural economy and the environment, in particular wildlife and habitat conservation.
“The Government therefore continues to support shooting, recognising it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected and we ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.”
The response was warmly received by the Moorland Association, whose director, Amanda Anderson, said: “We agree with the Government that licensing is not the right way forward. We believe that the imposition of a top-down licensing system would not be either fair or proportionate. Instead, we believe in harnessing the motivation and expertise of passionate land managers to achieve conservation goals, using a bottom-up, solution-based approach that will have the lasting impact that our wildlife and habitats deserve.”
Ms Anderson continued: “As Defra’s response clearly states, grouse shooting is a legitimate activity that provides a wealth of social, economic and environmental benefits. The benefits, including private investment of over £1million a week on conservation in England and in excess of £15million injected directly into rural areas during the shooting season, would be at risk were they subjected to clunky top-down regulation.
“It is imperative that over 1,500 jobs and 42,500 additional work days a year in remote communities are protected alongside a suite of internationally important bird populations,” she explained.