More evidence of grouse moor burning in defiance of national emergency

Which part of ‘please stop burning the grouse moors to ease pressure on the emergency services while they try and cope with a national respiratory virus pandemic’ do they not understand?

Here is further evidence that some moorland managers in Scotland are ignoring the plea for voluntary restraint that was issued six days ago by Scottish Land & Estates.

Why is this still continuing? Because presumably some people think that maximising the number of red grouse available for shooting parties in the autumn is ‘essential’ and because it is still legal to light these fires up until 15 April (and astonishingly, in some cases up to 30 April with landowner’s permission, despite the presence of breeding birds) and because a request for voluntary restraint can easily be ignored.

It could be argued, and indeed it already has been, that these are not deliberately-set fires but are the work of (a) arsonists, (b) out of control BBQs by members of the public ignoring the lockdown and enjoying March picnics in the snow, (c) anti-grouse shooting activists wanting to set up shooting estates, (d) spontaneously combusting heather during this winter heatwave, (e) spontaneously combusting imaginary wind turbines, (f) in fact anything other than the bleedin’ obvious.

This photograph was taken yesterday afternoon and shows a fire on Garrows Estate in Strathbraan, Perthshire (photo by Keith Brockie and yes, he did have a legitimate reason to be driving through this area):

This photograph was taken today. It is the same location as the fire we blogged about yesterday (here) on a grouse moor in Stirlingshire:

Here are some more fires from across Scotland, all recorded since the call for voluntary restraint was made on 25th March:

It’s interesting to note that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association hasn’t made any public statement about asking its members to stop burning. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as any surprise given this organisation’s reaction (here) to the shooting industry’s recent u-turn calling for an end to the use of toxic lead ammunition.

The SGA seems to have other things on its mind just now, moaning about what it sees as ‘unfair criticism, particularly over climate issues’ (yes, really!), and the Scottish Government’s decision to exclude some fieldsports businesses from claiming a Covid 19 support grant. This SGA video is quite something:


28 thoughts on “More evidence of grouse moor burning in defiance of national emergency”

    1. Absolutely spot on, Ian.
      When I heard that guy’s mournful voice I immediately recalled Rikki Fulton describe the time he found a parishioner standing on a chair with a rope around his neck and calling out “Help me, help me”. ………… So I kicked the chair away !

  1. They are breaking the law as it’s not essential work and will be strain on emergency services if fires get out of control. The whole world is in a global pandemic!!!

  2. This continued burning after the request that restraint be shown and been ignored again only adds another nail into the coffin and argument for a total ban on grouse shooting. The arrogance and ignorance of both the landowners and gamekeepers to continue doing what is wrong in the eyes of many will hopefully bring the banning of grouse shooting across the UK sooner than later. It is only continuing to line the pockets of all involved at the expense of all wildlife.

  3. Perhaps the police drones which were famously used in the Peak District (?) could also be used to film grouse moors from now on.
    If you are not up to anything illegal then there is nothing to worry about…

  4. They are just getting ready to feed the country ,wait and they will be presenting food to the needy soon.

  5. Although billowing clouds of smoke are not exactly easy to hide, none the less are they chancing this because they honestly believe that with far fewer people out and about they might not be spotted/reported? What else are they doing if they’re prepared to risk such a conspicuous, ludicrously selfish and arrogant act? There’s an awful cold feeling in the pit of my stomach that when we finally get to return to the hills there’ll be a sudden dearth of ravens, kites, buzzards. otters, pine martens from large swathes of countryside. Really hope I’m wrong.

    1. Surely you can rely on the Moorland Assoc, The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Assoc for Shooting and Conservation to look after these matters in our absence. If not why not?

      They have been imploring their memberships to behave for some time now. Their credibility and accountability is clearly on the line here. They are under pressure to deliver like never before.

  6. As a matter of interest, does anyone know whether these activities have been reported in the Daily Mail, etc? I’ve no doubt that had similar irresponsibility been shown by others, climate change campaigners or example, then they would have made a great clamour about it.

  7. My heart bleeds you ****ing prick
    Your members should not even be in the hills and as for stating that what the Scottish government is doing is illegal stinks of hypocrisy, there are people dying and your crying about there not being a season, speaks volumes

    1. The arrogance of this lot is jaw dropping and you’ll see case after case of conservation, forestry, farming and even public safety being compromised across the world just so some can have plenty of living things (even ecosystem threatening feral goats in Hawaii) to kill for fun. There really needs to be a paper on it and at least one hard hitting documentary to highlight this global phenomenon. In Scotland the SGA once made a ludicrous public statement that sea eagles could pose a risk to small children – yet are strangely silent on the FACT that the ludicrously bloated red deer population we have to benefit stalking estates is leading to more people dying in road accidents. They’ve been getting off with far too much for far too long.

  8. Hoggy is right in as much as they have a legal obligation to check snares once a day…..but he is overlooking the fact that he has a legal obligation not to set the bloody things in the first place. SNH could sort this out in a snap by shutting down registration or withdrawal of the general licence.

    Their hobby killing is not essential work.

  9. Ah the Hogmeister, it would be funny if he meant it all as irony but sadly he is deadly serious, either he is from another planet or dimension or he is without doubt utterly bloody stark staring mad and suffering from an overwhelming delusional view of the world. The work of the gamekeeper even the ghillie is not part of some essential service supplying us the “needy” with food. it is to skew the ecology so badly that in the near future sad bastards overburdened with money and no moral compass can kill surfeits of grouse, pheasants and deer for fun. The burning question is will they continue to get away with currently setting the World on fire?

  10. No other industrial concern or factory would be allowed to produce such pollution – and this at a time when a respiratory disease is running rampant through the country. Will the government act on this? Er – nope.

  11. The Scottish Government and SNH have access to the Sentinel satellite programme.
    This delivers regular (daily) high resolution imagery. SNH have boasted that they can use this to monitor the progress and severity of muirburn. So it should not be a problem mapping all the burning that has taken place when there should have been no burning….. and feed that information into the agricultural grant system. You break the rules, you loose your grant.

  12. The video…..are the SGA so delusional that they feel that the work of gamekeepers is vital to ensure the food supply to the UK is maintained?

    The ignorance displayed reminds me of a conversation I once had with a “mole catcher”, who clearly believed that moles had to be trapped and killed as:
    (1) the mole hills they created, killed all the grass and turned fields brown
    (2) that moles spread listeria by urinating in the soil which then entered the food chain when sheep graze in a field with mole hills in it, and then that listeria would go on and contaminate the whole food chain!
    The fact that the listeria bacteria is present in soil anyway, whether moles were present or not was clearly beyond his comprehension!

    Listeria can be a problem with food- if you are interested have a look at the FSA website- but modern food processing and storage normally ensures that any bacteria in farm animals is eliminated before the food arrives on our plate. But listeria in food has nothing to do with moles!

    Anyway the scientific logic displayed reminds me of the sketch in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, that – “witches burn because witches are made of wood” !!

    I sometimes wonder if certain groups of people in our society have ever evolved from those ignorant, uneducated medieval peasants, so amusingly portrayed in the film?

  13. Has anyone gave any consideration that this is still important if not vital, as thing progress with this Covid19 do you thinke the fire service will have the manpower to deal with a major fire in the coming months. Its been proven time and again that controlled muirburn massivle reduces the risk of wildfires devastating large sections of moorland and ususlly at the time when birds are nesting. Not a very fair critisism, it does not shine a great light on your group with petty unfounded bickering at a community which could never do anything positive in your eyes. Dissapointing to say the least.

    1. “Its been proven time and again that controlled muirburn massivle reduces the risk of wildfires devastating large sections of moorland and ususlly at the time when birds are nesting.”

      If your industrial killing of wildlife did not include the draining (drying) of the moors there would not be so many wild fires, would there?

    2. I doubt whether these fires can be considered “controlled”, as so many seem to require the attendance of the fire service and 1) wet peat doesn’t burn and 2) I doubt we have any genuine wildfires. I suspect the majority are deliberate arson (perhaps to justify muirburn by disaffected “guardians of the countryside) by lawless scrotes or stupidity / carelessness from smokers / picnickers.

    3. Your logic is almost as bad as your use of English. The moors in question are in fact so heavily burnt that a wild fire essentially has nowhere to go fast. Of course considering that the tropical dry climate of Scotland combined with its nearly daily summer lightening storms without rain wildfires are a constant and ever threatening danger! On the other hand you could just be as delusional as friend Hoggwash or trying to justify the unjustifiable at any time but particularly now.

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