Benefits of shooting

BASC chief executive on the benefits of shooting

Volunteers make things happen. From the ladies who run the Cub Scouts, to the committee that arranges the village gala, and to the shotgun coaches who give their time to inspire the next generation, volunteers are so often the fabric of our pastimes and our communities. Their contribution is so…

Wigeon

The way of the wigeon

Sympathetic management of a local patch may be an important contribution to conservation but sometimes action has to be taken on a much larger scale. For instance, to look after populations of wintering duck, such as wigeon, the scope has to be international. This is where overseas grants from the charity set up…

RSPB

Are the RSPB pro or anti-shooting?

Britain’s heather moorlands are both beautiful and rare, and they owe their existence to grouse shooting. If we are going to maximise the wildlife in these upland habitats, it is vital that conservation charities and gamekeepers can work closely together. This can be a fraught relationship; moorland gamekeepers fund their…

Heather Burning

Burning heather: an issue of moorland management

Why do we burn heather moorland? The practice of muirburn – or burning heather, as it’s more commonly known by the practitioners -is extremely old. It was originally done to produce fresh grazing for animals, as it still is over huge swathes of the planet, though not on heather moorland.…

Burning moorland

RSPB criticised for twisting scientific evidence

The charity has said that heather burning on grouse moors is a “damaging practice”, basing its statements on a research paper written by an RSPB scientist and requesting government involvement last year. However independent scientists have studied the evidence and say that the RSPB press statements show “only passing resemblance to…

Golden Plover

Time to enter the Golden Plover Award 2016 for moorland management

  The Golden Plover  recognises progressive, practical and sustainable moorland management in Scotland and this year the Award theme reflects sheep farming’s role as a major upland land use. Adam Smith, Director (Scotland) of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust said “The judges will be looking to identify the best…

people shooting in countryside

Report shows UK bird numbers halved since 70s

Shooters have a “major part” to play in conserving the UK’s bird populations, say countryside groups, following the publication of the 2015 UK Biodiversity Indicators Report by DEFRA and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee last month. The report highlights the declining fortunes of Britain’s birds, with statistics showing that between 1970 and 2014…

Grouse moor management

Grouse shooting: why moorland managers are conservation heroes

If the critics are to be believed then the picturesque patchwork of heather glens and valleys that comprise our nation’s grouse moors is a battlefield between gamekeepers and wildlife. Some groups and individuals who call themselves conservationists believe that the faults and failings of driven grouse shooting are so systemic…

hen harrier

Government publishes Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan

It makes six recommendations to help restore the population of Britain’s endangered hen harriers, including the controversial brood management measures. It proposes to monitor hen harrier numbers in the UK via satellite tagging and tracking, to share best practice with land managers and gamekeepers, to encourage the provision of food…

shooter with spaniel

What’s coming up in 2016 for the shooting and countryside community?

Lindsay Waddell, chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation If the past is any sort of indicator of the future, 2016 will be a busy year for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO). The list of major issues that might alter how we go about our jobs grows ever longer by the day.…

Dunlin

Endangered birds thriving on Scottish grouse moors

There are 81 species of bird — many red-listed as being of conservation concern — thriving on Scottish grouse moors, according to a new report, published last month by the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. Many species of bird faring better on managed moors The study conducted wildlife audits on three “key”…

woodcock

Call for restraint shooting woodcock

In an effort to protect the woodcock population, several countryside organisations, including the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, are following the recommendation of conservationists by asking shoots to schedule any shooting until at least after November’s full moon, which falls on Wednesday 25th November. This will allow the declining resident woodcock population…

Concerns over Scotland's Land Reform Bill

Scottish Government accused of threatening rural economy and conservation

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Climate Change Committee and said further due diligence was needed to prevent ‘perverse outcomes’ from the legislation. “The Scottish Government has failed to undertake an economic impact assessment” In its written evidence…

Red Squirrel

What is the future of the red squirrel?

This week is Red Squirrel Week (Sat 26 Sept – Sun 4 Oct) It’s a travesty that we’ve allowed grey squirrels to out native reds in much of England and proliferate to such an extent that their numbers have now reached an estimated 2.5million. Thanks to squirrel pox spread by greys,…

grouse shooting

Rural communities highlight importance of grouse shooting

A new report published today shows the importance of grouse shooting and moorland management in supporting fragile rural communities. Created by Scotland’s Rural College and the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College it focuses on two areas of Scotland – the Angus Glens…

Golden plovers: a rare asset

We never know how many migrant birds will return each autumn, but I am anticipating a shortage of golden plovers in the west of the UK, because this has been a strange spring and summer in Iceland. The national picture will be complicated by the fact that our winter flocks…

beaters and pickers up

Cancelled grouse shooting “will hit rural businesses”

Many rural workers could be out of a job this season as up to 70 per cent of grouse shooting days face cancellation in some regions of the country, suggested the Moorland Association (MA) last week. Prolonged extreme weather conditions, described by the MA as “the worst breeding conditions in…

hen harrier

2015 hen harrier breeding season set to be most successful since 2010

Hen harriers remain one of the most endangered breeding birds in England. Yet despite poor weather throughout the recent breeding season, 2015 has brought six successful harrier nests, fledging 18 new chicks. Unfortunately a seventh nest failed towards the end of the season as a result of natural causes. The…

Landowners and wildlife. Friends or foes?

Landowners and wildlife. Friends or foes?

Even before the panel took their seats, there was a keen atmosphere in the theatre with a packed audience arriving early to be sure of a seat and a ringside view. The debate didn’t disappointment, with questions from the floor,  following introduction and comments from the panel members, ably chaired…

curlew

Moors “vital” for curlew

The curlew is in serious decline across much of Scotland and the bird was recently named as this year’s “Bird of Focus” for the RSPB Scotland’s Big Nature Festival. The RSPB wishes to introduce the licensing of grouse moors, but the Scottish Moorland Group says it is managed moorland that…