New e-petition: ban driven grouse shooting in England

It’s been coming for some time, and now all patience has finally evaporated.

Mark Avery has launched a new e-petition today, calling for a complete ban on driven grouse shooting in England after it has led to the near-extinction of the Hen Harrier as a breeding species in the English uplands.

Hen harrier

We are 100% in support of this e-petition, especially as some of ‘our’ Hen Harriers are known to travel across the political boundary down into England, and vice-versa. It doesn’t matter where you live, be it Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic, this issue affects all of our Hen Harriers.

The petition is cleverly timed, too, with the petition’s closing date designed to coincide with the election of the next national government. That’s smart.

Here are Mark’s thoughts on why this e-petition has been created:

Dear friends

I have just launched an e-petition on the No 10 website calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting in England. At the moment it only has me signed up to it so it needs a bit of support. I’m not really very keen on banning things so it has taken a lot of thought to launch this petition. However, after 60 years of complete legal protection, the Hen Harrier is rarer than it was (in England at least) when it got that protection! And after at least a couple of decades of talking about solutions with the moorland community, in which I played a part for a while, the Hen Harrier is almost extinct in England. There are times when one can reach an understanding with ‘the other side’ but this doesn’t appear to be one of them. The systematic, illegal, wholesale removal of a protected bird from our countryside is a disgrace.

Of course, I would be rather surprised if this e-petition led to the banning of driven grouse shooting but I hope it will highlight the issues around this land use (which are far wider than a protected bird of prey) and make it easier for some sort of sensible solution to emerge. But if grouse shooting were banned, we really wouldn’t miss it at all. You are the first to hear of this e-petition – I will be giving it plenty of publicity over the next 12 months. Please don’t sign the e-petition if you don’t have some sympathy with it – that would be wrong. And I’m not going to know, whether any of you have signed it or not – unless, of course, the number of signatures remains at just the one.

If I can add another 9,999 signatures in the next 365 days then the government,  perhaps a different government, will have to respond. If I can add 99,999 signatures, then the issue may be debated in parliament (it would be interesting to hear what Nigel Farage would say!).

Dr Mark Avery

To sign this e-petition, please click HERE

Well done and thank you, Mark, for taking the initiative.

Photo of the nesting Hen Harrier by Mark Hamblin.

102 thoughts on “New e-petition: ban driven grouse shooting in England”

  1. Signed with pleasure, I wish it every success, it’s high time these Victorian law abusing shooting estates were kicked into touch.

    1. nirofo – many thanks. Share the e-petition with your birding friends, and more importantly, with those who don’t yet know about the disgraceful illegal killing of protected wildlife in our hills. thank you.

  2. Lost for the best of words but….BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT will do for now. Great stuff Mark Avery, I cannot for a moment believe the signatures on this petition won’t go into overload….heres hoping.

    1. Why don’t we ban hides within 500 meters of nest sites at the same time, that way these birds that are apparently on the brink if extinction might stop abandoning the few nests they do have due to disturbance by people who apparently are there to “protect” them, I look forward to the anti grouse moor rants in reply, not long to the glorious 12th now, there is bound to be a frozen harrier dropped on a grouse moor around then

    2. Pete – you seemed to have found some words – Brilliant seems to be the main one! Thank you. now please share the e-petition widely – talk to your workmates about it. tell your relatives. Spread the word, please. I’ve launched it – that’s the easy bit – we now need a movement to get behind it. thanks for your support.

  3. Signed, with pleasure. Let’s hope, this time round, the RSPB put their full weight behind this petition.

    On the subject of the petition website irregularities (I’ve mentioned it on here before), before I signed, the total number of signatures stood at 203. After I signed, instead of increasing, it had dropped to 198. There is something clearly wrong with this setup, and it requires some scrutiny.

    If anyone else is going to sign, please make a note of the total before and after signing.

    1. Marco – thanks for signing. Don’t worry about the website eccentricities. It zig-zags a bit but it only goes up over time.

      The RSPB will find it difficult to put any weight behind this e-petition (although they could have done with the previous two on vicarious liability (Chrissie Harper) and licensing (John Squire (!) Armitage) because the RSPB must, according to its Charter, remain neutral on legitimate fieldsports. So the question that RSPB Council would have to answer is whether grouse shooting, if it depends on the obliteration of protected wildlife, still is a legitimate fieldsport. Are you an RSPB member? if so, why not ask them.

      I’d ask you to put your full weight behind it (rather foolishly, i have lost some weight recently!). Please ask your friends to sign it and use that as an excuse to tell them about birds of prey and the problems they face. Thanks you for your support – this e-petition will only fly if we gather an army of supporters.

      1. If the RSPB Council believe that grouse moor management practices falls into the legitimate fieldsports category, then they are sadly out of touch with modern environmental thinking. Hopefully, after the two poor shows with the petitions you mention, this time round we will see some positive action and prolonged support for the campaign.

        No, I’m not a member at present, for a variety of reasons, but I do have some contacts within the organisation, so I will make enquiries.

        I don’t do Facebook or Twitter, but like other petitions in the past, I will shortly be distributing information about the this one to a number of Yahoo Groups I belong to, so we should see a boost in numbers in the coming days.

        Good luck!

  4. Signed with pleasure, the same petition should be raised in Scotland too. There is no place in modern Britain for such outdated practises, these estates have proved that they will never enter the 20th century let alone the 21st.

  5. Anyone who despises shooting and the thugs that do it should sign this,there is no place for grouse shooting in this day and age, its a pleasure to sign it.

  6. Glad youve caught up with me at last Mark…and I hope the rest of you have finally got it too..these people have shown a total unwillingness to compromise over the killing of protected predators [not just raptors..the slaughter of wild cats, pine martens amd anything else that looks sideways at a grouse has been appalling]..lets sweep them and their ghastly “sport” away…..I will also be signing your petition….

    But be aware that you will have to start suggesting alternative uses for these grouse deserts, ones which create employment and encourage a variety of wildlife and their differing habitats…or you will start seeing petitions to look after the poor unemployed gamekeepers.

    1. Dick, just shutting down the grouse shooting estates will be enough to generate a resurgence of wildlife activity on these man made barren wildernesses. A few years filling in the drainage ditches, getting rid of the shooting butts and planting naturally occurring trees and other vegetation will provide quite a bit of employment, for quite some time, not to mention encouraging wildlife tourism to these huge areas which at the present are only available to a privileged few.

  7. I am worried, while I am most definitely against the illegal killing of raptors, I am unsure what would replace the grouse moors. I think things need to change but if grouse shooting is banned then the guys who own the land will want to make their money just the same, and it is unlikely they will turn their estates into wildlife reserves for the good of the world. Far more likely is giving the land over to the likes of wind farms, or some other infrastructure that generates money. Would it be an improvement if all these estates were built on? would that really help wildlife? I’m not convinced this is a step in the right direction but i am open to being convinced.

    1. If the estates still want to continue with shooting, then they could easily convert to a walked-up shooting system, which would not require the large bags necessary for driven grouse shooting, and allow predators to co-exist on the estates. If people still want to pay to shoot, then they still pay the same but come back with fewer birds.

      When shooting is out of season, these estates could also offer wildlife tours to further boost their income, especially if they have charismatic species nesting or as regular visitors (and with an increased tolerance for predators, this wouldn’t take that long). There are some estates that offer shooting activities as well as wildlife tourism, and you just have to look at the economical and employment benefits that raptors have brought to many areas of the UK – Loch Garten, Isle of Mull and the Lake District to name a few – with many thousands of people visiting each one, and all spending money the viewpoints and in the local economy.

      If the estate owners wanted to change, it could be done easily, but sadly many of these landowners are still holding on to outdated, anti-predator beliefs, and they would much rather continue the illegal slaughter of raptors and other predators rather than seek change that would end all conflict with conservationists.

      1. That is all very interesting and makes a lot of sense, could you fill me in on the difference between a driven grouse shoot and a walked up shoot? is this petition is for driven shoots only? I really do not want to come across as defending the grouse shooting industry, I just like to have my facts straight. Thanks for your reply.

        1. Driven grouse shooting involves an army of beaters to “drive” the grouse towards a line of waiting guns, where they (and most probably anything else that flies) are blasted from the sky.

          Walked-up shooting, as its name suggests, will have the shooters themselves moving in a line, and with the help of dogs to flush the grouse, the grouse can then be targeted.

          However, some organisations will try and suggest that walked-up shooting doesn’t provide the same revenue for the estates as driven grouse shooting does, but if they chose to adapt to a more wildlife-friendly (and more tolerant) system such as walked-up shooting only, there is nothing to stop them from using the same pricing structure as they do with driven shooting. But as already mentioned, many of these estates have had decades to change, but their wanton desire to rid the nation of predatory creatures far outweighs any thoughts of implementing change in their land management regimes.

          Yes, this petition is for a ban on driven grouse shooting only.

      2. ” If people still want to pay to shoot, then they still pay the same but come back with fewer birds.”

        I have often wondered if the “paying customers” really want the big numbers that much and if they realised what goes on to enable that outcome would they be happier (or ok) with smaller bags. In general I think they would. I am not a shooter but most that I speak to are happy with a day out and the interaction with the countryside. A brace of pheasant for the pot is a bonus. I agree this is not driven grouse or pheasant shoot mentality but I suspect the majority would accept the situation.

        Having written this the “business case” has gelled in my mind.
        You can’t go elsewhere to shoot red grouse so their income is pretty much protected even with smaller bags. They can still charge the same and most if not all grouse shooters are ridiculously wealthy.
        The sales pitch can change slightly to “how environmentally friendly they are and that is why we charge even higher prices for less grouse”

        Possibly the fastest way to get the situation to change is to get that message across to the paying customers. Any ideas on how to do that? Adverts in Shooting times ?

        1. Exactly, it’s a captive market, and the fastest and best way would be for the estates to adopt these practices and advertise it themselves. It’s a simple solution, requiring simple change, and it could end all conflict. If only they were that enlightened!

      3. Good point. The hen harrier population fell by half when driven grouse shooting ceased on the Berwyn Special Protection Area (SPA) in Wales.

        1. We only have your word on that issue, and to be honest, if the information has come from a GWCT report, then chances are it could be seriously flawed. Provide the report, or at least name it, and allow us to analyse the data and make our own judgements.

          However, I will alert you to some excerpts from a report (CCW Contract Science No.879 – Hen harrier population studies in Wales), showing the main limiting factors in the Welsh Hen Harrier population;

          In the Executive Summary section, we learn
          “The Welsh harrier ‟population‟ appeared to be relatively stable at around 24 occupied territories for much of the late 1980s and 1990s, before increasing in the 2000s. The latest available census, in 2006, estimated 45 occupied territories.”

          followed by

          “The period of population expansion, starting in the late 1990s, was associated with increased breeding productivity.”


          “Predation (largely by red foxes) and human interference were the most commonly recorded causes of breeding failure. Interference was associated with nests on ground where gamekeepers were employed, but appeared to cease in the late 1990s onwards, concomitant with an increase in both productivity and population abundance. Predation appeared to show no association with the presence or absence of gamekeepers.”

          Delving deeper into the report, we arrive at Section 4.3, Breeding failure, where we are informed that aside from natural predation, human interference is the main cause of failure.

          “There were 87 documented nest failures where a cause of failure was not attributed (typically the nest was found empty). Of 86 failed attempts where a cause of failure was attributed, 51 nest losses were due to predation (including 20 to red fox, two to carrion crow and one to a raptor), 25 losses to human interference, five losses to eggs failing to hatch, four losses to nest desertion, and one to starvation of chicks. Hence, the two main attributed causes of breeding failure if eggs were laid were predation (usually by red fox Vulpes vulpes) and human interference (evidence varying from, for instance, shot female, trampled chicks in the nest, nest kicked out over surroundings, bootprints surrounding nest, and gamekeeper in possession of chicks).”

          “Failure attributed to interference in the years 1990-1995 was significantly more likely to occur on ground where a gamekeeper was employed than on ground where no gamekeeper was employed. There was no significant difference between recorded instances of predation at nests on ground managed by gamekeepers and at nests where a gamekeeper was not employed. The latter result was unexpected, as gamekeepers were presumed to have controlled foxes; the finding suggests that fox control either did not occur or was not effective. Either way, it suggests that any failures due to interference on ground managed by gamekeepers were probably not compensated for by reduced losses to fox predation.”

          “This paper illustrated that a negative effect of human interference (apparently largely or exclusively on areas managed for grouse shooting, until recent cessation), and a positive effect of May temperature, were most influential on variation in harrier breeding productivity. This study also quantified, for the first time, that cessation of persecution can result in a marked improvement in hen harrier reproductive output. Nest predation by red foxes had no effect on variation in breeding productivity and there was no evidence that control of fox numbers by gamekeepers compensated for their depression of productivity through destroying harrier nests. These analyses also indicated that gamekeepers probably destroyed an unknown number of nests before they were discovered. The recent increase in the breeding productivity of Welsh harriers has probably been influential in the recent recovery of the Welsh harrier population and has apparently been due to a combination of cessation of human interference and warmer May temperatures.”

          Section 5, Discussion, produced the following snippets;

          “Gamekeepers employed to manage grouse moor were probably largely or entirely responsible for breeding failures due to human interference, as indicated by both indirect evidence, in that human interference was only recorded on ground managed by gamekeepers, and by direct evidence, in that gamekeepers were implicated or confirmed as responsible for breeding failure due to interference (e.g. found in possession of harrier nestlings). The absence of any difference between recorded instances of predation at nests on ground managed by gamekeepers and at nests where a gamekeeper was not employed was unexpected, because gamekeepers were presumed to have controlled foxes (Hudson 1992). This finding suggested that fox control either did not occur or was not effective and further implied that harrier breeding failures due to interference on ground managed by gamekeepers were probably not compensated for by reduced losses to fox predation (see also Green & Etheridge 1999) as did the absence of any marked increase in predation when interference and grouse moor management waned.”

          “Thus, the improved fortune of the Welsh harrier population is substantially explicable by the apparent cessation of human interference from 1997 onwards (coming towards the end of a steady decline in the number of red grouse shot: Offord 2002). This effectively provided an experiment which confirmed its influence on harrier breeding productivity in that breeding productivity was markedly higher after interference ceased.”

          So there we have it. Incontrovertible proof that gamekeepers, gamekeeping and shooting activities are hugely damaging to Hen Harrier populations.

    2. Andrew – almost every grouse moor in England is designated as an SSSI and/or a Special Protection Area for birds under the EU Birds Directive and/or a Special Area for Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. ironically, some of these designations were, at least in part, because of their Hen Harrier populations. Many are also in National Parks. Some are in AONBs. I would imagine all, certainly most, get large payments through agri-environment schemes. These are protected landscapes into which the taxpayer is pouring money. There is no chance that they will be covered with concrete, windfarms or forestry plantations.

      1. Ah OK. I did not know this. Poor show that all of that protection did nothing to save the harriers. My worries have been answered and you can consider me convinced. Petition signed. Thanks.

  8. Well done Mark for taking this stance and hope this puts even more pressure on the money grabbing bastards who portray themselves as sportsmen, I worked as a beater in Bowland for a season in 2003 and I never once heard anyone coming off the moor saying they wished they’d shot more birds. Every one had a great time on the moors even at the end of the season when birds were in short supply. At the time there were 13 Harrier nests in Bowland.
    A decade later and the world has changed, no longer are people satisfied with what they have they always want more, I have a contact on the moors who puts the blame on the young keepers up there who he says wont leave anything alone, I blame the Estate owners, these are city people used to getting their own way in the city and maximising profits at all costs, these people don’t care about cutting thousands of jobs and the effects this will have on peoples lives so they are not going to give a damn about getting rid of a Harrier that’s eating their Grouse and losing them money.
    The RSPB don’t need to come out directly and get behind this if they are worried about the royal charter they only need to give a few discreet nods to its membership similar to the underhand way the shooting fraternity sends out messages to its members, don’t forget the Country Life front page headline “ Are Buzzards now vermin “ its time to play the ignorant at their own game! Petition signed.

    1. merlin – thank you very much. You are right that the RSPB could do a lot. But I am assuming that the success (or failure) of this e-petition is down to me, you and other individual nature conservationists. So, please do your best to spread the word and get as many people, particularly ‘normal’ people who aren’t mad about birds but also don’t shoot, to sign up. Thank you.

  9. I am very happy to sign and support you on this Mark, I just hope it gets some action, lord know I have tried, along with others but it is like banging your head against a brick wall as far as this government go.
    We must never stop fighting for our wonderful raptors.

    1. Chrissie – thanks. This e-petition is just the latest after yours and John Armitage’s. There may be a different government in Westminster by the time this e-petition is completed. who knows? That is an extra incentive to sigh. I know you will, because you know how hard it is to gather names for this type of thing, but please do your best to spread the word. Thank you.

  10. Blinding idea. Lets make all the keepers redundant… the people making habitat and undertaking predator control… that hen harriers need to thrive… We need more hen harriers not revenge. Why not support Defra and its Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan?

    1. Andrew – how did the Hen Harrier survive before the days of driven grouse shooting? How does it survive in the rest of the world where driven grouse shooting doesn’t happen? How does the Northern Harrier manage? This is such a nonsensical view – is it the best you can do. The Hen Harrier does not need to be cuddled by a keeper – which is just as well really…

      1. Great emotive stuff.

        Swerves the point that keepers do manage both the habitat and predators in a way that hen harriers need to thrive – Journal of Applied Ecology, 50: 1397-1405. So, we should try to back the Joint Action Plan to resolve the conflict.

        1. “Swerves the point that keepers do manage both the habitat and predators in a way that hen harriers need to thrive.”

          So, could you tell me how many pairs of Hen Harriers nested on driven grouse moors in England last year?

        2. What gives keepers the right to ‘manage’ OUR predators. I keep pigeons but that certainly doesn’t give me the right to ‘manage’ sparrow hawks of peregrines. Not that I would want to even if I had such right.

        3. Andrew, you have managed to respond to some comments today, but somehow you failed to give an answer to my question. Perhaps it was purely accidental, and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but I would like you to provide an answer, so here goes again;

          “Swerves the point that keepers do manage both the habitat and predators in a way that hen harriers need to thrive.”

          So, could you tell me how many pairs of Hen Harriers nested on driven grouse moors in England last year?

        4. And for the third and final time Andrew Gilruth, could you tell me how many pairs of Hen Harriers nested on driven grouse moors in England last year?

          Considering you have made the wild claim “that keepers do manage both the habitat and predators in a way that hen harriers need to thrive”, it does seem strange that you are unwilling or unable to provide an answer to such a basic question. Why have you repeatedly evaded the question? Could it be that the true answer is in complete contrast to your nonsensical claim?

          The GWCT now have as much credibility as Songbird Survival!

    2. Not many gamekeepers creating the hen harrier habitat on Orkney, Islay, Western Isles, is there?…Im sure its not beyond the wit and resolve of the same people who have brought back the corncrake, to bring back the hen harrier to the uplands of England [and South Scotland]….

      1. Ah, but the Corncrake doesn’t eat grouse, does it? Can’t go upsetting the grouse shooters by bringing back the Hen Harriers can we !!!

      2. Quite right. The collapse of the hen harrier population on Orkney has been attributed to limitation of food supply from sheep grazing.

        1. But they did bounce back, and recently reached a 20-year high, so they’re doing well here, away from gamekeepers’ guns and illegal traps.

        2. If only there were densities of HH in the north of England similar to those in Orkney… That’s what I call a collapse! SPAs partly designated for HH now have none at all.

      1. no but the organisations that represent you prefer to turn a blind eye and continue to fail to address the problem. as long as it doesn’t stop you enjoying your sport eh!

      2. Andrew – for the absence of doubt, what proportion of GWCT finances come from people with a vested interest in grouse shooting? The question might be that you (GWCT) are supported by some criminals even if you (GWCT) don’t support criminality. How would you know what proportion of your members allow or encourage illegal raptor persecution on their land? What steps do you take to ensure that your funding is ‘clean’?

        1. Don’t be daft – the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is a charity; not a police force.

          1. Take money from anyone then? Against criminality but turn a blind eye? What proportion of GWCT money comes from people with a vested interest in grouse shooting? That’s not an improper or unreasonable question is it? Or are you, perhaps, ashamed of some of them?

              1. GWCT science is not bad (not as good as it used to be in my opinion) but what the rest of you say is just spinning like a top. What proportion of GWCT money comes from people with a vested interest in grouse shooting?

    1. Pheasant beater – or at least don’t do enough to persuade the rest of us that they are serious in condemning. GWCT has gone down hill so much in the last decade or so. They used to stand for something, I’m not sure they do now.

  11. Don’t get the whole idea of driven grouse shooting. Silly number of birds lined up for fat lazy types that don’t want to waddle too far from the comforts of their range rover evoque. Rough shooting is a far better sport and takes away the need for manic gamekeepers. I have no problem with gamekeepers doing their job and knocking off as many foxes/crows as they like, its the criminal element within the driven industry that targets protected species which needs to be stopped

  12. Nature has its limits and it has been regulating itself for millennia. Leave the wildlife alone.

    1. Becerra, no disrespect but your comment bleeds ignorance. The British countryside has not been regulating itself for a millennia.

  13. Signed !

    Land value tax could be an answer. There must be some way to change this intolerable situation; but they have so much money, they would be bound to create many, many loopholes. The only way really is to ban it completely and start a rewilding process.

    One species I’ve heard little of in these debates – how does the Merlin fare on these upland deserts ?

    1. BTO data shows breeding records within 10 kilometre squares, making it possible to establish that where there are gamekeepers, there are four times more merlin.

      1. I’m sorry Andrew, but you’re not seriously trying to tell me that where there are gamekeepers, there are healthy raptor populations, are you ?

        At least you seem to have a sense of humour !

      2. You can interpret that statistic in another way.

        Gamekeeper managed lands are good for birds of prey – IF THEY A RE NOT PERSECUTED!

        Merlins are not a problem for keepers and they don’t feed on carrion so don’t suffer from poisoning and presumably are rarely shot. They are also going to benefit from reduced corvid numbers ergo less nest predation.

      3. just had a look at BTO records, making it possible to establish that where there are fishermen there are many times more cormorants.

        1. I think this is different, they have both worked out where the best fishing grounds are. A learned response is in progress too. “Look cormorants fishing, lets try there” or “Look humans fishing . . . . “

    2. Land value tax may encourage more wind farms to help cover it, be careful what you wish for!!

  14. I’ve just returned from a week in prime Hen Harrier habitat in Scotland. It seems like it’s been a good year for Red Grouse with many chicks present but not a single harrier seen. Scotland AND England deserve better than this. Signed, of course.

  15. Thank you to everyone who has helped get my e-petition (our e-petition) to 2500 signatures before the first week is up. That’s pretty good going and the grouse shooters and their apologists are certainly in a tizzy about it. Please keep going – you can’t sign it twice but you can get a friend to sign it too please.

    It would be great to get to 5000 signatures by the Inglorious 12th. Do you think that is possible? And will you please help? I’m sure you will – and thank you.

  16. If moors had no gamekeepers, there would be a large number of foxes and they would soon eat the HH nests, the fox can easily smell the stench of a nest full of harrier chicks, with obvious results, at least on keepered moors we get the side effects of much greater breeding success of curlew lapwing etc, than on ground with loads of crows. This debate has gone on for years, but if the land was not used for grouse then something else would have already taken its place, like forestry or large numbers of sheep. I know of land in Cumbria that 20 years ago was thick heather, then was sprayed off, ploughed and grass seeded, now no one would realise it had been heather land, now just another field of sheep and cows. another moor in Cumbria has become so runned down with over grazing, no burning no gritting, no stoat control, the grouse have all but a very few gone, just died out, theres been no shooting there for many years, theres still no harriers. Theres rspb Geltsdale reserve, still no harriers, probably been eaten by foxes when in the nest as chicks, they now have a huge area, with no grouse shooting, but theres still no harriers, perhaps they are just meant to be rare, id like rspb to put your money where your mouth is and buy a huge area of moorland, theres always plenty for sale, and see if rspb can then bring back HH. Its not that easy. RJ. Clark.

    1. its not that easy because Hen Harriers dont stick to one area, they roam, do an internet search for Bowland Betty and follow her movements to her untimely death on a grouse moor in yorkshire, She didnt stick to Bowland probably after being shot at several times she decided to take her chances can buy land that harriers should breed on like Geltsdale but you gaurentee the birds safety, without trying to sound rude your comments show a very poor understanding of the situation.

    2. This is the ‘need a cuddle from a keeper’ argument that is such nonsense. I don’t expect the Norwegians and Canadians to start building grouse butts to save their wildlife. It is utter, utter nonsense.

    3. “If moors had no gamekeepers, there would be a large number of foxes and they would soon eat the HH nests, the fox can easily smell the stench of a nest full of harrier chicks, with obvious results…”

      More ill-informed tosh. If that is truly the case, then why did the Hen Harrier not become extinct thousands of years ago, long, long before there were any keepers? How did the manage to survive the never-ending onslaught for those millennia?

      “Theres rspb Geltsdale reserve, still no harriers, probably been eaten by foxes when in the nest as chicks, they now have a huge area, with no grouse shooting, but theres still no harriers, perhaps they are just meant to be rare…”

      Guessing at a reason as to why there are no harriers at Geltsdale, but completely ignoring the fact that Hen Harriers are regularly targeted during migration and on winter roosts – mostly on grouse moors! Would you care to explain the situation on Orkney, where Hen Harriers appear to be doing quite well, on unkeepered ground. Have a wee read at this and see how RSPB can benefit the Hen Harrier – providing the site is well away from grouse moors.

  17. i live in south west Ireland. Ireland has no large estates or upland game management. There are very few grouse. There’s alot of overgrown heather, or overgrased upland where over half a century the landscape has been totally denuded of vegetation and soil. None of the many species that benefit from moorland management exist in Ireland as they only thrive on managed moorland. We have a very small population of hen harrier.
    Ireland was not always like this. We had lots of biodiversity before we made upland moor management impossible. We were more concerned with getting rid of the owners simply because of historical conflicts. We also got rid of the heritage that these landowners protected. The UK’s uplands are one of the wonders of the world. These Uplands continue to inspire milions of visitors and have done for centuries.
    The biodiversity and beauty they contain are not just natural. This beauty is part of the UK heritage. Grouse moors are as intimately connected with this heritage as The Beatles are with Liverpool . People can support strange truths when heritage collides with politics .

    1. Interesting viewpoint Jim and a more thoughtful one than we usually get from the pro grouse moor commentators.Thanks…Yes the debate is also about what kind of Uplands we want..managed grouse moor is definitely not the natural climax ecosystem – native woodland up to a natural treeline is…personally Im in favour of much much more native woodland, which will provide a different kind of biodiversity but like many I also enjoy some open hill heather moor. The trouble is, how to get that open moor ecosystem without all predators being killed to support the owners finances?..I’m interested in long term solutions which necessarily involve less human interference – quotas are a complete no no and would lead to endless disagreements…native woodland managed for and by local communities along with tourism/recreation works elsewhere, lets try that here.

      1. Hi Dave
        The heritage which currently supports the huge biodiversity and beauty of British moorland is intrinsically linked with human activity and has been for many centuries. Where traditional grouse moors are no longer managed in parts of Derbyshire , they have become overgrown with birch. The heather is waist high and woody. There are no grouse but there are no other birds either and very low biodiversity. Your unique and inspiring moors within easy reach of millions throughout Northern England are not natural . The landscape is utterly dependent on dedication and intimate knowledge. The sustainability of this landscape is intimately linked with grouse. Giving priority to any other model will provide you with a new landscape . There won’t be any raptors to persecute because they won’t have any prey species, nesting sites or their ground dwelling chicks will be eaten by foxes.

        1. Jim, I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’m fully aware the message may have been posted before you joined the site, and there is every chance that you have missed it, but why not convert to a walked-up only regime, requiring smaller bags (charged at the same price as driven is currently), allowing for predators to co-exist alongside the grouse. With nesting raptors in these areas, public viewpoints could be set-up (with applicable charges). There are a vast array of raptor watchpoints scattered throughout the land, and the good ones attract many thousands of visitors throughout the season. If the viewpoint is a success, other benefits could soon be trialled, such as tearooms, visitor centres, shops, all of which would be additional income in the long run.

          Why, through some outdated belief that requires large numbers of dead grouse to equate to a successful moor, restrict yourself to this regime, when a simple adaptation could alter this for the better. The moor owner would still have the same income from shooting, but would have the additional income from the watchpoint, and shops. We also hear repeatedly about the employment opportunities that shooting brings to these rural areas, so by following the above, would enhance employment further, giving younger people a greater incentive to remain in these areas.

          However, it would need a willingness from the shooting industry to change, and therein lies the problem.

        2. Sorry Jim thats just not true..Im not arguing with how we got to the present grass and grouse degraded habitats, of course they are man made, and can be changed by man too…its the bit about it being birch scrub if its not heather moor. We have shown in the Highlands [look up Ron Greer on internet] that proper native woodland can flourish on even very high Upland areas [Drumochter Pass exclosure plots being an example]..there will be variation on wet and dry areas of moors of course and thats what will provide variety of biodiversity in the future….its how we use those new habitats economically that is the real challenge for the whole communities in such areas.

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