Parliamentary question – economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management

There’s been a fair bit in the press in recent days on the alleged positive impact of grouse moor management on the Scottish rural economy, following the publication of a series of new reports.

Representatives and supporters of the grouse shooting industry will, of course, tend to focus on the assumed economic benefits and rarely, if ever, will they mention the economic costs of this damaging industry.

So this is a really important parliamentary question that’s been lodged by Scottish Green’s MSP Alison Johnson:

Question S50-04745. Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party. Lodged 4/11/2020.

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact on the rural economy of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management.

Current status: Due in Chamber on 12/11/2020.

I’m not sure which Minister will be answering this question next Thursday but I look forward to the response.

Here’s a photo of a police officer examining the corpse of a white-tailed eagle, found illegally poisoned with a banned pesticide on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park earlier this year (see here). [Photo by Police Scotland]

He wasn’t the first victim and he certainly won’t be the last. Raptor persecution, whether that be poisoning, shooting or trapping, is still rampant on many Scottish (and English) grouse moors, despite it having been illegal since 1954.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Scottish Government intends to assess the economic cost of this ongoing criminality.

UPDATE 13 November 2020: Environment Minister acknowledges potential economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse shooting (here)

12 thoughts on “Parliamentary question – economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management”

  1. There is of course an opportunity cost here as well because of the other possible economic benefits of different landuse fo grouse moors which are currently foregone..

  2. I am sure in the future we will weigh up the mental health issues of everything. We are catching up with physical health next it will be mental. Imagine the feeling of knowing the moors were full of all the species that evolved to be there.

  3. Beware an own-goal in respect of opportunity costs. In relation to sheep, trees and windfarms, they tend to be negative because all these alternatives are subsidized by the taxpayer. I’m in favour of banning intensive management for grouse-shooting and i agree that we have long needed an unbiased, academically respectable assessment of the costs of illegal persecution but we must be prepared for the possibility that the outcome will not be entirely favourable to our case.

    1. There are other alternatives to put forward and one of these is absolutely blinding and that’s flood prevention/reduction. At present with a degree of public subsidy for grouse moor ‘management’ and extensive sheep farming in the uplands a proportion of the UK population is contributing (or rather politicians are doing so on their ‘behalf’) financially to uneconomic activities that are significantly increasing the chances their homes, workplaces, roads and railways will be flooded. Adding insult to injury surely. Some ecological restoration involving targeted tree planting, and hopefully in the longer term the reintroduction of beavers in the uplands could dramatically slow run off and flood levels downstream. The 2005 Carlisle flood cost more than 400 million pounds so even an extremely paltry 1% prevention of that would mean 4 million quid saved. DGS is pure nonsense and subsidising marginal sheep farming when we have an obesity crisis and nearly 40% of our food is thrown away is madness when we could be stopping homes from being flooded and bring back wildlife too. The anti DGS movement hasn’t made as much of this as they could yet, it’ll be fantastic when they do.

      There’s also fantastic scope to increase everything from pony trekking to working conservation holidays on moors where even walkers are not welcome where DGS is dominant. I myself have done two of the latter in the Forest of Bowland over New Year so I and my team mates were putting money into the local area after the DGS had finished. I’m positive that many companies would pay for staff to go holidays like this as team building courses with social/ecological benefits. Compromising environmental health as well as virtually every other economic activity just to accommodate a tiny minority is utter madness. Please read both of these guest blogs – https://markavery.info/2019/04/19/guest-blog-rebirding-and-grouse-moor-economics-by-ben-macdonald/#comments and this one https://markavery.info/2018/09/27/guest-blog-driven-grouse-shooting-your-bluffs-been-called-by-les-wallace/#comments

  4. Unless that question was asked solely to display the lack of any clear factual knowledge of effects on the local economy, by government, I have to agree with Jeremy Greenwood. All you will get is a reiteration of the grouse shooters economics. Proving a negative is always more difficult – how many tourists are put off?..how many dont come back if their dog is poisoned/they witness persecution?…supplementary questions will be needed.

  5. Are the employment figures linked to DGS accurate or are they inflated? Have alternative employment opportunities been considered (so mitigating potential losses from DGS) for land use and management?

    What are the costs of carbon emissions consequential of muirburn (can they be monetised, as in reparation costs which might then be converted into a land tax on DGS estates)? What are the costs of increased flooding risks (again if these can be assessed and taxed to provide mitigation as a consequence of management practices)?

  6. Just my own personal anecdote on my tourism in Scotland. I’ve been (from England) going to west and north west Scotland and Islands for 30 plus years for short breaks and I love it. But do I ever go to the east side eg. Angus, Grampians, etc.? No, (never for a holiday – though I have been there work related) because it is exactly the same developed and exploited intensive DGS landscape I have right at home. And I know exactly what goes on there.

  7. Sadly, you just know that the Scottish Government is going to come down heavily on the benefits of the grouse moors whatever the cost of the economic impact of wildlife crime.
    But congratulations to Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Green Party for, at least, getting the question raised in the Scottish parliament.

  8. I’m so pleased to see Les Wallace’s comments on flooding but before I continue with my views can I assure any critics out there that I do care passionately about raptor persecution, the wholesale slaughter of “legal” pests and the destruction of heaven knows how many “non target” birds and mammals. Just today on BBC Looknorth the Fishlake floods of last year are being re-visited with scenes of the Environment Agency spending 12 million on improved defences for the River Don. But where does the water come from? A question that to my knowledge is never asked by the news presenters (especially the BBC). Well, anybody in Yorkshire with a modicum of concern knows exactly where most of the water starts its journey.
    Every winter we here about those poor souls in Calderdale loosing their homes, livelyhoods and insurance. So, what’s my point? Surely the one thing that would engage the interest and concern of many many more people would be to get the messaage over loud and clear that much (or perhaps most) of the flood water is the result of grouse moor management.

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