Late last year we blogged about the significant spread of disease on intensively-managed driven grouse moors in northern England (see here) following the publication of two scientific research papers from the GWCT.
The disease, respiratory cryptosporidiosis (also known as ‘Bulgy Eye’) has been, until recently, almost entirely associated with captive poultry flocks that have been kept at high density, usually for breeding purposes. It was first detected in wild red grouse in 2010 and since then has spread rapidly, via communal medicated grit trays, and by 2015 had affected high density red grouse on half of the 150 grouse moors in northern England. This disease has the potential to damage shoot economics but more importantly, there are welfare issues and conservation concerns, especially the threat of cross-infection to other species inhabiting the same moors.
Photo: Medicated grit trays, contaminated with grouse faeces, act as reservoirs for disease transmission (Ruth Tingay)
We mentioned in our earlier blog on this subject that the rapid spread of this disease had been well-documented on grouse moors across northern England but information about how far it had spread across Scotland was lacking.
The GWCT had recorded it for the first time in Scotland in 2013 (on the Lammermuir grouse moors), and at a 2015 seminar the audience was told by a GWCT scientist that “since then we’ve heard of much further outbreaks” but we’ve been unable to find any more detail about how far it has spread in Scotland.
So we thought we’d ask SNH. They’d be all over this significant threat to biodiversity, caused by intensive grouse moor management, right?
The correspondence referred to in SNH’s response to Q4 doesn’t really relate to this subject – its more about SNH’s reaction to our blog about SNH’s ridiculous Natural Larder campaign in 2015 where they were trying to portray red grouse as “natural, healthy and sustainable”. We’ll be publishing that extraordinary correspondence in a separate blog.
So why isn’t SNH monitoring the spread of Cryptosporidiosis across Scottish grouse moors? And if SNH isn’t monitoring it, who is, and what measures are being put in place to stop the spread and to protect red grouse and other wildlife?
Looks like its another question for the Scottish Government’s grouse moor management review group to consider.