Channel 4 News re-visits the grouse moors of the North York Moors National Park

The illegal killing of birds of prey on the grouse moors of North Yorkshire was firmly back in the news headlines this evening with another excellent piece fronted by Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News.

You may remember an earlier piece from Alex back in May this year (here) which featured various police investigations in Nidderdale AONB and the discovery of five dead buzzards stuffed into a hole on a Bransdale grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park during lockdown – four were later confirmed to have been shot (here).

This time the TV crew filmed a grouse-shooting party near Goathland in the North York Moors, where earlier this year film footage emerged purporting to show an individual killing a trapped goshawk on the Queen’s grouse moor in May (see here and here).

In this latest film there’s some hilarious footage of various members of the shooting party denying all knowledge of the alleged goshawk incident and providing a display of arrogance that the general public doesn’t often get to see, usually hidden as it is behind carefully-worded propaganda pieces.

Speaking of the alleged goshawk incident, Alex said,

The police told us, a gamekeeper will soon be prosecuted for killing the goshawk“.

The Duchy of Lancaster says if there is a successful prosecution, the sporting tenant, BH Sporting, may lose its lease.

Interesting times.

Here’s the six minute video that appeared on Channel 4 News this evening:

UPDATE 24th September 2020: Channel 4 bats away shooting industry hysteria (here)

46 thoughts on “Channel 4 News re-visits the grouse moors of the North York Moors National Park”

  1. Although shooting is exempt from the rule of 6 how can beaters from multiple households cram into a vehicle. Is that legal? Its certainly shows they have little respect for old and vulnerable people in society whose death may well be caused by their irresponsibility

  2. Excellent piece from Channel 4.
    I’d be a bit careful if I were them. Dont they know what pressure the government brought to bear on the BBC for not towing the government line?
    Looking forward to a prosecution if the police aren’t leaned on to prevent it, or if the Crown Office don’t somehow manage to avert a prosecution, as now the norm in Scotland

  3. I jumped for joy when I saw this on Channel 4 news and, just for once, actually thought that the demise of driven grouse shooting could be a reality in the very near future. Alex Thomson was on his usual good form and it was also good to see Luke Steele as articulate as ever. Well done to Martin Holland, Chair of the Goatland Moor Regeneration Working Group for speaking out.

    The killers shot themselves in the foot over the social distance exemption bringing a whole lot of bad press and publicity – oh dear, how sad, never mind! I also noticed that the MA declined to be interviewed by Alex Thomson and I’m not surprised, they could only dig themselves a bigger hole. There should be a lot of worried grouse moor owners after this because their investment is about to take a nose dive. The writing is on the wall.

  4. Message to C4 news: huge well done, there is hope for mainstream media / journalism after all!
    Message to the xxxxx Parasites (i.e. Sporting Tenant, Agents & MA): get it right up ye!
    Message to Keepers & Lackeys: keep flagging grouse for the Toffs for as long as you can – you clearly “know nowt about” the rest of the world.

  5. Great reporting – straight to the point.
    I am seething at the sight of the Nasty Brigade – look at them clamming up and getting defensive in the glare of publicity!
    We need more of this – their nefarious activities have gone on for too long in these remote places. Bastards.

  6. “We are leaving now, and passing through a farm WHERE YOU CANT GO”. Bet Alex was terrified and disappointed. So awkward. So many awkward faces and expressions. Filming a TV crew on their phones as if it’s Hunt Sab. What a great piece. “Where’s your evidence?” Ha. On camera, sunshine. Channel 4 setting the pace.

  7. Personally I think the most important part of the report was the claim by the Duchy of Lancaster that they see carbon sequestration and storage as the future role for their moors. Lets hope they actually follow through on this and there is enough money, either from companies or government to make it worth their while. If such a high profile landowner takes the lead on this, how many others may follow? Would be good to see Prince Charles as heir to the Duchy of Lancaster come out in public support of such a policy.

  8. I was quite amazed to see this on the news, its whats needed, they must clean up their act , I think its too late already, there has been too much damage done, theres no way out of this now, you are all doomed, its now just a matter of time before, more court cases and restrictions are imposed. Public opinion is a massive support, it could be used to turn against them very quickly with a few more news items, such as many topics that have been brought to light by this blog. My wife was appalled when she saw the Channel 4 news, most people still have no idea what really goes on, the pain and suffering is really quite depressing. You have had your chance,
    Jail is waiting, for those that are caught. You know what I mean. Goshawk.

  9. If one or two members of the public walk in these areas, those “brave”, tweed-clad, gun-wielding arseholes are quick to confront them, msking nonsensical demands, but when they are faced with a journalist/reporter and a camera crew, the (t)weeds run and scamper like the cowardly bastards they truly are.

    1. Their weapon of choice against sabs, filming with a mobile phone, didn’t work so well with the film crew. Hilarious to watch.

      [Ed: Dave J, Thanks for your comment but the last sentence has been deleted because you can’t possibly have evidence to support that claim. Please be careful with generalisations]

  10. Utterly brilliant report covering all angles from the beaters and keepers refusing to acknowledge what is common knowledge, the you can’t follow us here from a young keeper not a PR victory for shooting, plus of course the TV crew being filmed by mobiles as if they are antis. The pigeon lofts which are legal but close to crow traps which will inevitably attract the Goshawks that come for the pigeons. the burning the local objections. all wonderfully portrayed. Grouse shooting in a true light. Well done to all those who organised and filmed this piece brilliant job done.

    1. Perhaps Countryfile could manage a similar report and learn a bit from Channel 4, but I won’t be holding my breath.

      1. I’d like to think so but far more likely to have a gushing Matt Baker telling the keepers what a wonderful job they do!

        1. Gutless Mr nice guy Matt Baker Sucks up to The Countryside Mafia. He might have to turn-coat soon and come grovelling this side, as the hatred for these brainless gunslingers drives them to extinction.

  11. First of all, brilliant stuff from Channel 4 News exposing this. The primary problem at the moment is that 99% of the public simply have no idea what is going on. The shooting lobby is so desperate to get Chris Packham sacked by the BBC simply because they are terrified of the public realising what is going on, because they are well aware that if the public ever found out there would be a terrible public backlash and the public would call for grouse shooting to be banned, and demand that the culprits be prosecuted and properly punished. So the shooting industry carries out a massive behind the scenes operation to prevent what is happening, ever becoming public knowledge and to bamboozle the public with disinformation. Often the shooting lobby just outright lies and often falsely accuses people and bodies just campaigning against the illegal killing of raptors of being anti-shooting, animal rights extremists, extreme left wingers, when these people are nothing of the sort, and they often are not even anti-shooting, and are just anti-crime and anti-law breaking.

    The position of the Duchy of Lancaster over the killing of the Goshawk is amoral and without a moral compass. Again they are basing their position on their being a successful prosecution. Whereby we will see clever and highly paid lawyers trying to get the case dismissed on a legal technicality. The shooting industry then tries to base the level of raptor persecution on successful prosecutions. Whereas in most cases there is no doubt whatsoever that the raptors have been illegally killed and the only question is who did it and the admissibility of evidence against that individual. This is all utterly dishonest, because in the vast majority of instances of raptor persecution, there are no witnesses, no dead raptor, which is quickly buried, just a complete absence of all raptors, where there should be many, proving rock solid circumstantial evidence of widespread and persistent raptor persecution. The shooting industry, and landowners are utterly amoral and without any moral compass, taking the position that unless you can prosecute an individual, with laws that are made deliberately weak and full of loopholes, then illegal raptor persecution isn’t happening.

    With no other crime is the level of that crime based on successful prosecutions. In all other crimes the total level of crime estimated, is based on both direct evidence, and circumstantial evidence of the amount of crimes being perpetrated, not just where the perpetrator is known and successfully prosecuted. The arguments of the shooting industry are beyond the pale in their persistent use of bare-faced sophistry.

    1. Firstly I applaud Alex Thomson for this excellent piece of journalism, the coverage has been edited to perfection, showcasing the killing fields to the masses on C4 – well done.

      You are correct ‘there are no witnesses’, ‘no dead raptor’, cases ‘dismissed on a legal technicality’, ‘and the only question is who did it’? If you haven’t heard of 3ET please find & follow on Twitter and soon my website run by me a member of the birding community. I am progressing with trying to find a helping solution by designing and making a CAMERA satellite tag, not to replace current tags that do a fantastic job, but to work in conjunction with them, to try to capture images of the culprits killing our Birds of Prey. Whenever I read about the killing of another Hen Harrier or other raptors or owls on this blog, or seeing videos like this one from C4 it makes me fume beyond belief, and spurs me on more to do what I can.

      Unfortunately the project I am working on has no quick fix answers and is likely to be a while before results of my Proof of Concept are known, and I fear there are going to be many more fatalities before then, I only wish the process could be quicker, but I hope I will be able to contribute something to ‘our’ cause one day. Look out for more on this in due course.

      ‘We don’t know anything about it’ what xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx they are!

  12. Channel 4’s coverage gave a very different perspective from the “cuddly conservation, providing wholesome food- fit to be served in restaurants” image that the shooting industry try and portray of grouse shooting.

    Most telling was that the “shooters” were given the opportunity to promote their side of the story…which they unwittingly provided- in their denials, hostility and complete incapability to give any condemnation of the illegal killing of the goshawk.

    Too often tv reporting on shooting and hunting fails to scratch below the glossy public relations of the various shooting/hunting associations.
    This time, the reality and its actors were laid bare for all to see.
    It’s good to see Channel 4 news being bold enough to cover this topic in such a transparent way.

    I wonder if Channel 4 news will now face the barrage of veiled threats and nastiness that is so frequently aimed at other media presenters who try and expose exactly what is taking place in the countryside?

  13. They don’t look so ‘we-are-the-guardians-of-the-countryside’ when they have not had a chance to work out their spin. Can’t beat an arrogant lackey or two form some disastrous PR. Well done C4!

  14. Channel 4 news has a feedback page on the webpage.

    If you think the news story was worthy of feedback then, a message can easily be sent via the contact page.

    Hopefully, positive feedback will encourage Chanel4News to keep on exposing the truth about what is happening in the countryside.

    Positive messages might also counteract the complaints they will no doubt receive from those who don’t want the truth laid bare for the public to see.

  15. Well done Channel 4! Couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the Channel 4 news last night – had to ring a friend! Seriously though such a comprehensive and well presented report at prime time viewing will open the eyes of many people to what is happening on the moors and it is about time.

    The lads who did the filming of the death of the Goshawk have to be applauded, it says a lot that they had to be anonymous.

    The denials from the shooters, their arrogance and hostility did them no favours. It was very poor PR for them.

    Do not have any faith in the promises from the Duchy of Lancaster! Actions not words are what is required from them.

    Hope big brother doesn’t come down hard on Alex Thomson and Channel 4

  16. Great bit of reporting in my opinion we could not expect the beaters to remark on camera seeing as they are working under a feudal system for the pittance they will be paid. If this comes off it be the biggest step in the right direction that has happened in this fight. Let’s hope the police can pull it off

  17. The behaviour of the shooters massively helped increase the impact of this piece; the sinister mafia-like vow of omertà, the evident paranoia in filming the Channel 4 News crew and the sniffily entitled we’re going ‘where you can’t go’. Nobody could watch the film without concluding that these are people with something to hide. Essentially, they shot themselves in both feet. The support of a small well-connected, very wealthy and powerful lobby is DGS’s greatest strength but also its greatest weakness as those involved then behave as if they’re above the law and it makes them blind to how their behaviour, as here, will be perceived by those without their bubble of patrician arrogance.

  18. Great reporting by channel 4. This is so important. Make grouse shooting illegal. Period. Make trapping birds illegal. Period. We are at a point in history like no other where we need to protect the wild life or it will disappear. The rich aristocrats have plenty of other activities they could do and luxuries like shooting and trapping wild birds can no longer be one of them.

  19. So delighted to watch this report! Maybe Channel 4 could be persuaded to make an in-depth programme about all real aspects of Grouse shooting, including stink pits etc. It struck me that the young beaters seem so similar to inner city youths in gangs….wanting to belong to a group, maybe wear the same clothes, assuming they are respected by peers and adults in the same cohort, and for some, maybe, turning to criminality.

  20. Fantastic reporting about an obviously illegal, odious ‘industry’ . The blanket refusal to acknowledge that Gamekeepers kill anything and everything they perceive to be a threat to the grouse is near universal in hunting groups is exemplified here. Maybe a report on the other vile actions of shoots such as ‘stinkpits’, the use of illegal barbaric traps and excluding people from the moors might be reported on? Another matter – many shooting days are effectively tax free as they are written off tax wise as hospitality by some companies. Outrageous IMO.

  21. Hi Mairi, the “young beaters” (one saying ‘you cant follow us’, etc) were actually keepers, but your allusion to theories of youth peer groups is still relevant. I like to think of Henry Hill growing up in the first half of ‘Goodfellas’. Funny to think that such young lads are the so- called highly qualified conservation professionals who collectively govern what lives or dies, grows or burns across hundreds of thousands of acres of our country.

  22. Great journalism by Channel 4, well done. I guess it’s too much to hope the BBC would allow their reporters to investigate the systemic persecution of birds of prey on game estates to produce unnatural high densities of red grouse to be shot for fun. The practice is toxic, as are the birds which are dosed with harmful chemicals and contaminated with lead shot totally unfit for human consumption.
    Furthermore regarding comments that the butts socially distance the shooters doesn’t count for anything when has I recently witnessed all the keeps and guests crammed in to the lunch hut on a local moor with the booze flowing freely.

  23. I think that I enjoyed the most was a lack of equal time given to one of the organisations to spout their side of the ‘facts’. Not the same old drivel about how raptor persecution is a thing of the past. The reaction of the keepers shows it is very much of the present and there was going to be no condeming the action from them

  24. I’ve just emailed the Duchy and let them know that I think what they’re doing is extremely positive and I wish them every success in making it work. As long as they do actually go through with it…

  25. Thanks for posting this important piece of news coverage. And good to see my old acquaintance Alex Thompson taking on the shooters (we had a mutual friend/neighbour).

    It is possible that widespread public and political concerns over global warming might even force the end of moorland heather burning, but mechanical mowing may then be tried to replace it. Perhaps Lochmaea suturalis will come to our aid?

    1. Would anyone else be not-suprised if the shooting lobby applied to NE to spray the heather with insecticide in late summer – probably from helicopter?

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