Mark Avery, former director of conservation at the RSPB, has put forward a petition to ban driven grouse shooting for 'sport'. But the Government has responded by saying that grouse shooting is a legitimate activity, offering economic and environmental benefits.
Dr Avery’s petition is founded on his premise that: “Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as hen harriers.”
The shooting community should be encouraged by the Government’s well-informed response, which fully supports grouse shooting.
Economic and environmental benefits of grouse shooting
It states: “Grouse shooting for sport is a legitimate activity and in addition to its significant economic contribution, providing jobs and investment in some of our most remote areas, it can offer important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation. The Government’s position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so …”
A £67.7 million industry in England and Wales
The Government backs up its response with sound facts and figures showing the positive environmental and economic impact of gamebird shooting. These include the fact that £250 million is spent each year on management activities and that £52.5 million was spent on managing grouse moors in 2010. The industry also supports 1,520 full-time equivalent jobs and is worth £67.7 million in England and Wales, and in Scotland grouse moor management is estimated to be worth £30 million.
This news and positive support will come as a relief to all those employed in the industry. Shooting UK recently reported on a Scottish hotelier who had described in graphic detail the privations that would be suffered by locals dependent on shooting for their livelihoods in the event of a ban.
On the hen harrier issue
The Government states: “It is encouraging to learn that there were six successful hen harrier nests this breeding season, fledging 18 chicks, figures which show it is on track to be the most successful year since 2010.”
It also answers Dr Avery’s accusation that driven grouse shooting affects protected wildlife, and reconfirms its commitment to the welfare of hen harriers by firmly outlining the work of the Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group “set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in hen harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Parks England and the RSPB”.
We’ll be covering this story fully in the next issue of Shooting Times, out Wednesday 22 September 2015. (You can take out a regular subscription here.)