The Government report remains undecided about grouse shooting

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The newly published Werritty report on grouse shooting in Scotland states that licensing should be introduced if there is no marked improvement in the ecological suitability of grouse management within the next five years.

However Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that licensing could be imposed sooner than the five year time-frame. Speaking in the Scottish Parliament about the recommendations she said: “The option of a licensing scheme absolutely needs to be considered, and if that is the view of stakeholders, and if we consider that necessary – and as I say it is a serious consideration – we will certainly move to implement that earlier than the five year timeframe suggested by the review group.”

Fieldsports groups, including British Association for Shooting and ConservationScottish Countryside AllianceScottish Gamekeepers’ AssociationScottish Association for Country Sports and Scottish Land & Estates,  came together to publish a reaction to the Werritty report, stating:

“The recommendations of the Werritty Review will mean a seismic change for grouse moors across Scotland. This report has recommended a barrage of measures that will leave the grouse shooting sector engulfed by legislation and red tape. On top of that, penalties for wildlife crime in Scotland are about to get much tougher.

“The sector has already willingly embraced change and improvements in how it operates.  We believe further enhanced training and codes of practice covering muirburn, mountain hare management and medicated grit are the best solution rather than onerous licensing provisions and we will be seeking an urgent meeting with government to discuss these key areas.

“The review group has recognised that there is no case for the banning of driven grouse shooting. They also accepted that licensing of grouse moors in general is hugely contentious, complex and unnecessary at this time. Nor is there scientific evidence to justify such a measure. Should it be introduced in the future, it would push an important rural business sector beyond breaking point.”

“At a time when climate change and the environment is of paramount importance, we take great pride in the environmental and conservation contribution made by grouse moors through carbon capture and the careful management of Scotland’s much-loved heather clad landscape. Inflicting an even greater burden on moorland managers would jeopardise this.”

Other recommendations within the Werritty report include additional regulation of muirburn, managing mountain hares and the use of medicated grit. Shooting Times contributor Matt Cross commented: “What muirburn needs is more and better science, not more regulation.”