Grouse shooting industry in desperate attempt to greenwash its rampant criminality

While hundreds of extremist armchair conservationists (an oxymoron, surely?) turned out in force to support Hen Harrier Day events up and down the country last weekend, the grouse shooting industry was preparing to unleash a barrel of propagandist articles and ‘new research’ in a desperate attempt to greenwash the rampant criminality that threatens to take the shine off the opening of the grouse shooting season this coming weekend.

Much of the spin has focused on the ‘preliminary results of a new study’ that, according to the grouse shooting industry, shows that ‘rare birds thrive on game shoots’ and that grouse moors in North East Scotland and North Yorkshire are ‘the country’s best bird sanctuaries’ (e.g. see here and here).

Hmm. An interesting conclusion. Would these be the same grouse moor regions that consistently appear at the top of the national league table for illegal raptor killing, year after year after year? Surely not.

Unfortunately no actual details of the new study have been made available so it’s difficult to assess the validity of the ‘preliminary’ findings, and given the grouse shooting industry’s track record on falsely interpreting grouse moor bird survey data (see here) and falsely attributing grouse moor bird research to credible research organisations (funnily enough, published around this time last year, see here), we’d prefer to wait to see the actual peer-reviewed scientific paper before commenting further.

Jeff Knott (RSPB) has provided an excellent interim response to an article about this study. In The Times yesterday, he said:

This grouse-moor-funded report tells us what we’ve known for some time. Grouse moors are good for grouse. Some other ground-nesting species benefit indirectly while others do not. Most notably, hen harriers, which are completely absent. The fact that the killing of predators reduces predation is hardly ground-breaking“.

Well known academic Ian Botham, Professor Emeritus of the University of Rural Mythology, has taken a break from his glittering scientific career to offer a few quotes in several papers in support of the ‘new research findings’ and, predictably, then moves on to slag off the RSPB and Chris Packham. Some might argue that he’s desperately trying to deflect attention from his car crash radio interview last week (still very funny, still worth a listen if you haven’t yet done so).

Meanwhile, another new research study has found that the best way to preserve wildlife is to shoot it in the face (see here).

Thanks to blog reader Mr Carbo for sending in this cartoon.

17 thoughts on “Grouse shooting industry in desperate attempt to greenwash its rampant criminality”

  1. What do you guys make of this rumour that 9 hen harriers are said to have fledged 30 chicks on the notorious Leadhills Estate?

  2. These “rare” birds were once common and often found themselves in the “bag” of the moorland rough shooter (in days gone by, thankfully). All we can say is that a conservation balance is paramount here. Perhaps we may have to recognise a commercial approach to sport in the rural area – but not at the expense of the environment caused by the over production of grouse. Yes, there may be a case for rough shooting grouse where numbers on the ground aren’t astronomically above what is naturally sustainable. It just can’t be a numbers game where there clearly is no understanding of the natural world by a great many participants – That numbers game has to be limited to shooting “clays”

    1. I’d say the numbers game for shooting ought to be relegated entirely to Nintendo Duck Hunt, but most of the shooters wouldn’t be able to crack a real high score on that either. Clays, using non-lead shot, is probably the best they can be expected to manage. Shooting: For people too incompetent for Nintendo NES games.

  3. Really looking forward to the details of this new study – but not holding my breath. It would be great if the grouse shooting industry could let us have this in time for BirdFair next week. Perhaps they would like to come along and present it?

  4. If there was any substance in your arguments you would not need to use extreme and offensive language, and resort to name calling. Grow up!

    1. Please supply a link to this supposed research then, so that those of us with a relevant background in ecology and environmental sciences can thoroughly assess its validity.

      Then we shall see what substance who has to their arguments.

  5. The good old Telegraph, with its typical pro-shooting propagandist nonsense.

    Of all the “rare” birds mentioned, not one is actually rare. Endangered perhaps, but not rare, and if the shooting industry and it’s propaganda arm in the media doesn’t know the difference between rare and endangered, then that is very telling.

    However, it was interesting to learn that the study didn’t even bother to look at Hen Harriers! Wonder why?

  6. Given they’ve run out of hen harriers to shoot, the picture suggests lapwings are next (well one in particular). I assume that this is because lapwings eat invertebrates, grouse chicks eat invertebrates, so therefore lapwings must be controlled/eradicated?

  7. The final straw for me, and I am sure for many others, was the speech made by half pint Fergus Ewing of the Environment Department, at the game fair at Moy, during which he stated that the SNP would give full support to the country sports industry, and heaped praise on the gamekeepers for doing an excellent job in our countryside. Praise also went to the young, in-training gamekeepers in training at colleges, who carry on that good work.

    In other words, all of us who have been contributing to wildlife conservation and animal welfare, as donors and volunteers over the long years, have been wasting our money and time, for it has been the super heroes employed by shooting estates to exterminate “vermin”, who have given us a wonderful array/diversity of life forms. The Glorious Twelfth is really a wonderful festival which involves a mass killing of game birds, which sustains our fragile Gross Domestic Product and provides wholesome food for our food banks. The gamekeepers have acted as agents against vermin such as Mountain Hares, which can be shot in their thousands by bored men and boys, to give them a wholesome rural sport. In other words, no other use for the Scottish landscape can be found, other than concessions to deluded, but well-meaning anorak types, who love butterflies/moths, hedgehogs and rare wildflowers, and being allowed certain areas as concessions by the Chosen Ones, who have appointed Fergus Ewing and his pals, to reassure the rural sports types, that their blood sports world will be eternal.

    After that master speech at Moy, I am sure many of us will cancel our donations to and membership of, the various conservation and wildlife protection groups that are getting in the way of a 100% vermin free countryside in Scotland, and down in England and Wales. Fergus is such an inspiring speaker, and since being enlightened by him, I am not going to heed detracting information from such mendacious groups as Raptor Persecution Scotland, Animal Concern, Scotland for Animals, Onekind, RSPB and all those other groups who want to save this and that species, for they are on the road to extinction anyway. The right road is the one Fergus is following, and that is to Perdition. In addition, all the contrary opinion to wiping out certain species that can impact on game bird numbers, is just a load of whimsical tosh, and to be treated as heretical to all the ingrained propaganda, that has brainwashed countless generations into believing, and correctly so, that our gamekeepers are doing a form of national service that opiates us all into thinking that we are happier and safer for their intervention.

  8. They certainly had the reports on the new study by “seven moorland groups” synchronised with a leader in the Dundee Courier on the last Monday (yesterday) before the grouse season began. The leader implies that maintaining the industry, in which many claim that driven grouse shoots cannot co-exist with the presence of a natural number of hen harriers must be sustained at all costs to support the rural economy. It also states that “critics state there is no place for blood sports” and ignores the fact that 86 per cent of those convicted of crimes against raptors are gamekeepers and it is their criminal actions over decades which has led to this position. It continues by ignoring the public subsidies which run at ¬£158,600 per 7,000 acre grouse moor and never a mention of the extra money required to furnish their workers with public services like garbage collection, education, road maintenance, water supplies, medical services etc., in remote locations. These are also supported by taxpayers money…. not that I would grudge the money if their activities did not include the persecution of so many birds and animals simply for the profit and sport of the privileged few. However it pains me to see so much public money being distributed to those who are doing so much long term damage to our flora, fauna and environment.

  9. It is interesting that the so called ‘quality’ newspapers are prepared to give a platform to Botham’s intemperate rants against Chris Packham and the RSPB, which are, as usual, based on vested personal interest and the distortion of recognised facts. At least ‘The Times’ partially redeemed itself today by publishing an informed and intelligent letter drawing attention to a certain selective use of statistics by the said gentleman.

  10. Haha! Love ‘Professor Emeritus of the University of Rural Mythology” :D!
    I see the nasty brigade are still wheeling out the same crap year after year re. their so-called ‘conservation.’
    If curlew and lapwing developed a taste for grouse, they’d soon fare as poorly as the hen harrier.
    They actually believe all this bullshit which is the worrying thing…
    I think only land reform is going to stop them. Collaboration and litigation hasn’t worked.
    If they no longer control the land, they can no longer destroy our wildlife and upland environments .

    1. ‘If curlew and lapwing developed a taste for grouse’
      If Curlew. Lapwing or Golden Plover were even remotely suspected of being a vector for anything that could threaten grouse bags?

  11. The red grouse is a lovely moorland bird and naturally wild, these clowns should be stopped from shooting it for fun, it’s cruel and morally wrong and that’s before all the law breaking comes into play

    1. If more people, especially RSPB officialdom, adopted the simple philosophy described by Mick, we might actually start to make more progress. However the sheer weight of ill-informed opinion within the shooting lobby is quite frightening, as I’ve discovered to my cost in pro-shooting discussion groups like “Countryside Against Chris Packham.” It’s easy to dismiss their ramblings as arrogant nonsense, but these people are quite delusional and wholly committed to their beliefs. Just about any uncomfortable scientific fact pointed out to them is dismissed as the views of ‘weirdos’ who haven’t a clue about the workings of nature. They talk disparagingly about ‘birdy types,’ to whom they ironically accord the blame for the decline of Hen Harriers! Fine people like Mark Avery, and of course Chris Packham, are regarded as ‘head-cases’ who can’t tell the truth. There’s little point in attempting to reason with their group members, because all you will get in return is vile, disgusting and deeply personal abuse. For my efforts to inform, I’ve been called every expletive under the sun, and my role as a Local Bird Recorder reduced to “a tree-hugging squirrel lover who gets other people to count birds, when he couldn’t identify a common bird if he saw one”! And that’s about the most polite comment I can quote without citing offensive language. I might come across sometimes as a doom and gloom merchant, but every now and again I remind myself that without Mark Avery, Chris Packham and RPUK, we’d be making no progress at all. That’s not to ignore everything that goes on behind the scenes by some of the best scientists in the country, dedicated campaigners or the work of the RSPB’s Investigations Team.

      1. I have a huge amount of respect for everyone who is in the ‘firing line’ of such abuse from these ignorant people, and can’t thank them enough for continuing to fight, whether by facing the media or collecting scientific info in numerous ways. ‘These people’ will, of course, pass on their views to the next generation, and most ‘general public’ parents are totally ignorant of the situation, and even of all wildlife knowledge. I think it is to the schools we have to turn to change things around in the long term. Whilst Wildlife Trusts run family days and activities for children, this is just a drop in the ocean. Can’t they go into all schools, regularly/weekly, running after-school clubs etc, anything to make our youngsters aware of the natural world, and how we need to care for it?

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