biodiversity from shooting

Shooters need to try harder to improve biodiversity credentials

Shooting is good for conservation, right? Yes it is, and if I were not convinced of that, I would not still be part of the GWCT advisory service. Helping shoots to deliver better conservation and biodiversity from shooting is what drives me after almost 40 years in this business. But…

stags

Staggering ignorance

Deer management, 
an activity undertaken quietly and in solitude, enjoyed — or perhaps more accurately endured — a brief moment of national attention here in Ireland. An incident in Kerry raised questions regarding the management of red deer in the county. In late October a red stag was observed by…

Lapwing

How civil servants affect our protected bird numbers

Despite what some may think it gives me little pleasure to once more take our civil servants to task for their decisions. However, as long as they continue to make glaring errors that is what will happen. You may recall in a previous piece I noted that anyone who manages…

Suffolk shoot on an autumn day

Raise a glass to the Brewery

The rustle, crack and crackle of beaters’ flags cut sharply through the crystal air. Frost, the first one of the year, clung to the heads of teasels, dusting them with light. The Guns were lined out to my right, on a wide grass headland. Then, from the block of biscuit-coloured…

grey partridges

A hopeful future for wild partridges

Grey partridges are an addictive and infuriatingly mercurial benchmark of conservation success — 
or failure. The moment you take an active role in their welfare and the enhancement of their habitat, you have fallen down a rabbit hole. The brief moments of joy when you see a healthy brood in…

Snipe shooting

Want to increase snipe numbers? These habitat improvements make a significant difference

Craigenputtock House has been sitting in the rural splendour of upland Dumfriesshire since the 11th century. Once the home of Thomas Carlyle, one of Scotland’s most influential authors, it has borne witness to much change. Over the years, the landscape has been transformed by afforestation, and continual drainage and tillage,…

red squirrel box

Protecting the red squirrel

I’m Jerry Moss and I have been a red squirrel ranger for 14 years. My responsibilities involve conserving and protecting the UK’s only native squirrel, especially from the threat of the alien grey. I am also a trustee of the Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group (P&DRSG), a charity committed…

Numbers point to a record year for Big Farmland Bird Count

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which organises the Big Farmland Bird Count, said the results were dropping in every five minutes. Jim Egan of the GWCT said: “We look like having a record year in terms of the number of counts returned. I can say that, so far, 127…

Snipe

How to create an ideal habitat for snipe to thrive

Growing up in Surrey, snipe were rarely on my horizon. The heaths are mostly too dry for them and the arable farmlands were the wrong habitat. Clandon Park, where I learned the beater’s trade, rarely held one either. Even the Medway saltings, where my father initiated me as a wildfowler,…

ravens

Death threat to Scottish National Heritage chief after raven cull decision

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) chairman Dr Mike Cantlay has received a death threat after Springwatch presenter Chris Packham criticised a decision to license a raven cull in Perthshire. SNH granted 
a research licence to Strathbaarn Community Collaboration for Waders, which wants to protect declining wading birds such as curlew and…

Ilkley Moor

What does the future hold for Ilkley Moor without grouse shooting?

On the other end of the phone the keeper let out a short, exasperated sigh. “The peewits will go, curlews, grouse of course, they’ll lose the lot.” “How long until there is a big impact” I asked. “Two years maybe, certainly not more. ” We were discussing the likely outcome…

burning heather

Is heather burning doomed?

About a year ago I wrote about looming problems with heather burning, saying that it would become a thing of the past on large areas of the northern uplands. It would appear that my worst fears are to be realised. There is not a ban on burning everywhere, but it…

Wildfowling on foreshore

What can Guns do about plastic?

I’m talking rubbish again. After my account in Shooting Times of wildfowlers organising a litter-picking day at Lindisfarne , a reader pointed me to an item in the Daily Telegraph. The report starts: “Organisers of marathons and other outdoor events have been urged to do more to clear up the thousands…

wild salmon

Scotland seeks to solve salmon crisis

The Scottish Government has pledged £700,000 to tackle declining wild salmon stocks. With survival rates for salmon at sea having dropped to just five per cent, ministers say that the money will help to fund new research and activities and mitigate damaging factors such as predation, illegal poaching and salmon…

Salmon numbers plumet

New angling rules for salmon

The Environment Agency has announced new plans to help protect plummeting salmon numbers  across English rivers and the river Esk in Scotland. Proposals include halting the taking of salmon from the majority of net fisheries by next year and the introduction of a mandatory requirement to return all salmon caught…

Ilkley Moor

Fury as councillors end shooting on Ilkley Moor

Bradford Council’s Labour Group has refused to renew the grouse shooting lease on Ilkley Moor in a move shooting groups claimed was made to appease the animal rights lobby. Bradford Labour has majority on the council and a decision to renew the lease rested in its hands. The lease had…

Northern Forest creation

New Northern Forest to be planted

The Government has announced plans to create a new Northern Forest spanning more than 120 miles between Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. With backing from Defra secretary Michael Gove, the Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust propose to plant more than 50 million trees along the M62 corridor from Liverpool…

Grey partridges

Help to save grey partridges by noting your numbers

Keepers, farmers and land managers are being urged to take part in the Partridge Count Scheme this spring. The annual monitoring initiative, which started in 1933, is led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and collects information on the breeding success of grey partridges, which have been in…