A hue and cry against driven grouse shooting

It’s always good to hear different voices joining the campaign against driven grouse shooting.

And what a brilliant voice this is – Pat Kane, who found fame with this and now does this – has written an entertaining comment piece published in The National yesterday, after Thursday’s announcement that the Scottish Government has finally decided to introduce a licensing scheme.

I’VE taken shots at coconuts while visiting the shows with the weans. But I have never raised a powerful-enough gun to my shoulder, aimed at a moving, living target, and taken it out of the sky mid-flight.

Evolutionary science tells me one thing; my automatic inner reactions tell me another.

The first says that sapient humans have been hunter-gatherers much longer than they have been agricultural or urban. Thus, much of our perceptual and motor equipment was forged to suit the demands of the hunt (computer games that let you take the shooting position, and their massive popularity, easily support this).

The second just recoils at the sporting destruction of a living organism, particularly under the ridiculous and farcical conditions of a “driven” grouse shoot.

We’ve seen enough nature documentaries that show the necessary link between prey and predator in an ecosystem: the raptor bright-eyed with gobbets of bird or rabbit in their mouths. It’s a challenge to watch it all. But it is, at least, the web of life.

The grouse-shoot, however? A landscape burned, polluted and made into a monoculture, encouraging fast but low-flying grouse to nibble at forced green shoots, so that upper-class hunting parties (coddled by supine assistants) can spray lead at a flurry of easy targets?

It’s hardly the high-stakes survival drama of the Paleolithic. The Pathetic, more like.

So for my sensibility, the more licensing and regulation of grouse shooting – as promised by the Scottish Government earlier this week – the better.

The nub of Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon’s statement addresses “the ongoing and abhorrent issue of wildlife crime – and in particular, raptor persecution”. The trigger was the 2017 finding that “a third of satellite-tagged golden eagles in Scotland disappeared in suspicious circumstances, on or around grouse moors”.

The ironies abound. Natural predators do their thing when faced with an abundance of grouse prey. The unnatural creators of that abundance defend their property by attacking and destroying raptors — now rendered as poachers.

They also defend their grouse stocks against Scottish mountain hares – specifically the ticks in their fur, which transmit a disease that worsens the quality of grouse populations.

This has justified mass winter cullings of mountain hares (also, incidentally, creating another commercial shooting opportunity). Mountain hares are now a protected species — so the minister is tightening the screws on this practice too.

All of this, and more, is promised to make up the specifications for a license to shoot grouse (though many environmental campaigners are already alarmed at the heavy presence of the hunting lobby in the consultation groups).

It’s hoped that the threat of investigation, sanction and withdrawal of the license will compel best practice. But another reading could be that they hope to bureaucratise and regulate the behaviour out of existence. Slow strangulation by red tape.

Here is the careful incrementalism of Scottish devolved government, in all its glory. You wonder, is outrage at the historical establishment of these shooting grounds a century-and-a-half ago – clearance and dispossession of communities allowing for upper-class sporting pursuits – something that deeply pulses away in a Scottish nationalist administration?

One would bloody well hope so. I watched an excellent news feature from BBC Alba’s Eorpa a few days ago [RPUK added link here]. The opening scenes captured port-soaked and tweed-clad shooters in all their coddled savagery. Yet the rest of the item tried to show a judicious balance of voices.

I was particularly struck by the granite-jawed and Gaelic-speaking estate manager from Lewis. Angus MacLeod of Barvas Estate objected to the “driven” grouse moor model – where beating the carefully-prepared heather ensures that each shooting expedition bags 20 to 50 birds.

MacLeod’s model was “walk-up” grouse shooting. In the driven model, “they’re only looking at the birds they’re aiming for. Up here, you watch for everything – eagles, hen harriers, merlin and deer too … You have to walk six or seven miles here, for a good day, just to get five or six grouse.” His quiet conclusion: “But that’s enough.”

It’s precious to hear any genuine declaration of “enough” these days. My own instincts, and progressive background, lean more towards the contribution from the Scottish Greens’ rep in the Eorpa show, Alison Johnstone MSP.

“It’s a relic of a bygone era, a Victorian pastime. Are we really suggesting that if we looked at a blank canvas just now, surveying this land mass, we’d be saying, ‘oh do you know what, let’s just fill this area with red grouse, and sell packages for people to have a day’s fun shooting at them’?

“We certainly would not — we’d be thinking how could we productively use it for the best outcome for the people of Scotland.”

THERE are some mightily impressive campaigners out there, proposing exactly these kinds of outcomes. The coalition revive.scot (one input to which is Common Weal, whose board I’m on) lays out a powerful, multi-factorial case against grouse shooting.

So is this the best economic and environmental use of somewhere between 12%-18% of Scotland’s land mass? Manifestly not. Revive’s figures are thumping. They do a “hectares required per job” number. For grouse shooting, it’s 330. Biomass renewables is 143, onshore wind 100. Forestry is 42, horticulture 3.

Then they do a “value per hectare used”. Grouse shooting stands at £30 (at the best estimate). The value for the preceding sectors quoted is, in order: £2596, £934, £900, £12,412.

There’s another thumping stat. “Repopulation and housing”, modestly named, could create 141,000 construction jobs and 39,000 real estate jobs, at a value per hectare of £11,950 (Revive imagines a “New Villages” programme to match the “New Towns” movement of the 60s and 70s).

Please, examine their numbers – but they won’t be out by that much. If we somehow shimmy our way into indy, I would expect that the urgent need to maximise our internal assets will reverse the gunfire on this “Victorian pastime”.

In matters of land, animals and their meaning in Scotland, I usually turn to one of the most reliable tuning forks I know – the human ecologist Alastair McIntosh. He sent me a few paragraphs yesterday:

“We’ve got to ask not just what satisfaction hunting might give, but also what service it provides towards maintaining a biodiverse natural and human ecosystem.

“I am a great supporter of deer stalking. Stalkers, like ghillies, love the land and what they take as prey. They know the stag has yet to be born that carries a condom. We should support such culling by proudly eating venison. But to farm pheasants just for bankers to bag, or to ‘manage’ grouse moors for the competitive fervour of the driven shoot, that’s a different matter.

“I remember discussing the sadomasochistic aspect of killing for the sake of it over an alcoholic lunch with a convenor of the then Scottish Land Owners’ Federation. Astonishingly, he conceded: ‘Oh yes, they got buggered and beaten when they were at school and now they want to do it back’ – and with a shotgun.

“Well, that may be psychotherapy: the primal bang. It may be peer-bonding, a business perk – and even back in the gun room at the lodge, a courtship ritual for the rich. But it’s no way that the Scotland of today should treat our wildlife.”

A complex view. And speaking as a townie who will never take a gun into his arms, even if the rationale is as eco-spiritual as Alastair’s, I won’t tower over every aspect of this debate with a complacent certitude.

But really, can it be right? That we subject so much of Scotland’s natural potential to so few?

ENDS

43 thoughts on “A hue and cry against driven grouse shooting”

  1. I read the above while listening to Phil Collins, “In the air”…..whilst eating a bacon buttie, and sipping a mug of tea. Nice, nice, nice.
    Good one, our Ruth 👍

  2. Yes, a highly pertinent submission.

    Pat Kane wrote, inter alia:-

    ” But it’s no way that the Scotland of today should treat our wildlife.”

    And it is no way that the SG should PERMIT our wildlife to be treated.

  3. Strongly recommend Ian Stewart’s “Making Scotland’s Landscape”, available on iPlayer. One of the 2 episodes outlines the historical context of hunting in a very direct manner.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Alan. I was pleasantly surprised by the tone of the language that was used and very surprised that the BBC let the scriptwriter and Ian Stewart present it in that manner. I can imagine that the supporters of driven grouse shooting would have been seething as they watched!

  4. after having time to reflect on the decision to license grouse farms a couple of things worry me, firstly SNP’s introduction of general licenses to control pest species and the removal of if suspected criminal activities had taken place was and still is little more than a farce, will the same situation still apply that someone else simply applies for a license if one person is excluded from owning one allowing things to remain the same and if so how many years will the SNP spin this out before they are forced to come up with some more diversionary tactics ,
    secondly I don’t believe these people will let red tape stop them, they simply employ someone as they do already to do all their paperwork.
    another brilliant piece by the way and probably more gun totting paying guests will eventually be too embarrassed to go driven grouse shooting given all the negative publicity it is not a good look these days to be associated with Neanderthals

    1. Please can we start to lay off the Neanderthals. The more we learn about them the more intelligent, sophisticated and social beings they turn out to be. Sadly the same cannot be said for supporters of driven grouse shooting.

    2. Merlin wrote :-

      “secondly I don’t believe these people will let red tape stop them, they simply employ someone as they do already to do all their paperwork.”

      Yes you are correct, of course they will. They will exercise any tactic to obtain licences. They have no qualms over employing people who criminally kill raptors therefore a little bit of paper shuffling will not pose a problem.

      The licence scheme is premeditated chicanery aimed at preserving the existing state of affairs.
      Once introduced it will fail, but that will merely trigger calls (mostly from the Holyrood mob) that is must be given time. It would be given time (without limit) and the killing would go on and on.

      The killing and crime have persisted unhindered for years on end. There has been no meaningful attempt to stop it. That is obvious.
      The rejection of the proposal to provide the SSPCA with powers was a blatant sign that the SG did not want them involved because they would have brought many of the scoundrels to book.

      Is there anyone who really believes that the SG intends to see the miscreants convicted. Wake up and smell the stink pits.

  5. Bankers eh? Private school boys? How to generalise and be so out touch of who is actually shooting driven game. Why not go into the countryside and ask. As a self confessed “towny” you might have to ask directions to the great outdoors, can I suggest looking further than your computer and mobile phone.

    1. Mr Greenwood,
      Please enlighten us about the people shooting Grouse. No names, but some occupations would be interesting, if you would be so kind.

    2. At the end of WW2 my dad came back from his years abroad in Sevice. He’d gone from skivvy to senior sergeant. He returned to the village where he’d grown up. There were no jobs that would pay enough for him to marry and raise a family. He moved to an industrial town to work.

      Some of us (and I wonder how many we are) are townies because of skinflint farmers and landowners paying peanuts. Then I wonder if only monkeys remained.

    3. As a rural dweller I’d like to point out that there are c. 560k shotgun licences issued for England & Wales (ONS figures, none suppled for Scotland that I can find). There are (same source) c. 9.5m people living in the countryside in England & wales which means that a maximum of 5.8% or rural dwellers shoot. But wait, the figure for licences includes people who live in towns and people who only shoot clay pigeons. So the real figure will be less than 5%, probably less than 4%, which means that even in the countryside shooting is an ultra minority activity. The figure for the population of England & Wales as a whole (c. 56m) is 1%.

      Please stop claiming that killing things for fun is somehow ‘a countryside thing’ and that all of us that live here support it. Perhaps more ironically, what we notice about the people who do pay (a lot) to come and do it here is that they mostly live and work in cities – London in particular. It is they that propagate the myths around ‘country sports’ not us. It’s their delusion, not ours.

    4. The first 3 prices quoted I found with Google –

      “it is certainly a rich man’s pursuit .— a brace of grouse costs £180 to shoot and a typical two.—day shooting party for eight can cost up to £50,000”

      “Francois Dannaud from France is returning to shoot grouse in Scotland this year (2015), having once spent £70,000 on a shooting party for 18.”

      “Grouse shooting for a party of six, over three or four days, can fetch more than £35,000.”

      Guaranteed to attract a cross-section of society?

      1. Grouse shooting is very expensive and exclusive , but a lot of pheasant shooting, deer stalking, wildfowling and rough shooting isn’t and most of the people I know who do it are just ordinary working guys. We should be trying to get them on our side, not alienate them. Their sport is being jeopardised by the abuses and excesses of the entitled elite.

        1. I agree with you Dave, up to a point. But I don’t hear many of these folk criticising the criminals in the shooting community. This silence inevitably leads to them being seen as part of the problem. Why do you think they don’t speak up?

          1. ‘Why do you think they don’t speak up?’

            My impression is that most ‘ordinary’ shooters regard grouse shooting as the preserve of the landed gentry and the very rich and nothing to do with them.

        2. Dave – have you noticed the recent fuss about numbers of non-native pheasants released, and the effect on the environment? Have the working guys you mentioned expressed any opinion?

  6. This is an awfully ignorant article. How is this allowed to be published as fact as opposed to the ill-informed simple opinion it is? The author should not write about things they know so little about.

    1. So, an opinion piece shouldn’t contain opinion? Perhaps you’d like to point out any inaccuracies (at the same time, of course, providing links to published, peer-reviewed evidence in support of your assertions). Or is your comment nothing more than “ill-informed simple opinion”?

  7. Comments keep referring to the owners and licensees manipulating things to retain a licence if a breach is made of the conditions, IE get someone else to hold the licence..
    The licence could be made to cover the land, A breach means licence suspended for x years regardless of tenant or owner.
    SSSIs apply to the land
    Listed buildings – the rules apply to the buildings
    Permitted use of buildings
    I’m not a lawyer but is there any reason this could not apply for DGS?

  8. This article is riddled with an anti-wealth tone, which is entirely irrelevant. Does your “journalist” love wildlife or hate the rich? … I’m struggling to differentiate these points.
    I’m from Ireland and we have no commercial grouse shoots. In fact we have almost no grouse. So you would assume, by your logic, that we would an abundance of wildlife and birds of prey but that is most definitely not the case. It’s the opposite as we have none. No red kites or eagles, only buzzards (and they are few and far between).
    I have been to Scotland numerous times and am overjoyed to see such a diverse range of animals and habitats… And my shock to read such naive and thoughtless articles, with zero considerations for what you Actually have at in present circumstances. I wish Ireland had a fraction of the wildlife you possess, as we have the habitats but none of the management.
    Be grateful for what you have, as the grass is not always greener on the other side

    [Ed: You say Ireland has “No red kites or eagles, only buzzards (and they are few and far between)”. Can I suggest you do some research?]

    1. So what you’re saying is we shouldn’t point out the myriad problems and harms caused by DGS because (checks notes…) Ireland is so much worse.

      Jesus wept, I despair…

    2. Its not irrelevant though is it? Who do you think owns the “Grouse” moors? Who form the majority of the people who participate in grouse shooting? Did you see the awful patronising tone of the debate in Westminster, the last time DGS was debated?

      Its not so much being anti wealth, after all there are examples of wealthy landowners managing the land in a way which is beneficial. Its anti those wealthy people who abuse the land and seem to think the law of the land as regards raptor persecution does not apply to them.

      As for grouse Moors having an abundance of wildlife, well you must be thinking of some other areas, because no grouse moor that I’ve experienced has an abundance of anything other than Red Grouse!

      Almost anything would have more biodiversity than a moor managed for DGS, so no we are not grateful for their existence.

  9. For over a year I’ve been a quiet but very keen observer and supporter for this organisation that has been fighting an extraordinary hard fight. A modern day David against an ancient Goliath, one with centuries of tradition, carved in rock, accepted, unquestioned, a domain of those determined to cling to something of a bygone era, fore-lock tugging, upstairs/downstairs elite society. One which for the most part was turned on its head when class boundaries started to evolve, this sort of activity one of the few remaining vestiges of an invisible class they still blindly refuse to recognise as having been made redundant. The RF publicly denounced the illegal, detestable actions that were connected to an estate they own just recently, stating their refusal to license/permit groups with suspicious histories of wildlife persecution. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step, and personally I have no issue accepting support for our side from ANYONE with wide reaching influence, regardless of ones personal opinion of them. It’s been an frustrating issue for me, wishing so often to comment, hours spent carefully constructing a post, only to delete it, for fear of not being able to express my thoughts without being misunderstood, targeted, forced to pledge full allegiance to an 100% anti shoot, anti hunt stance. But I can’t, and it was with great relief to read about 2 others, Angus Macleod, and Alistair McIntosh; as having been born/raised in an Hunting/fishing/avid conservation family & environment, Michigan in the US is an state that embraces its former Native American Indian roots, our ethics, morals and strong connection with our land, nature and balancing with a conscious effort of being able to cull deer, pheasant, Turkey, via carefully allotted licenses, to keep overpopulation down whilst raising our families on some of the best meat in the world. The first I ever heard of these driven grouse shoot events, I was beyond overwhelmed with disgust, and even grief. THIS, is NOT hunting…this is what we call a “canned hunt” and no different than shooting a hand raised deer in an acre paddock. Even fox hunting is nothing like how we managed varmints on the farm. Raised believing that a careful, fast, clean, immediate kill for anything, whether a Rat or Deer, is the only acceptable, ethical method. This barbaric practice of ‘hunting with dogs’ here, for fox or other animals, does not in anyway resemble how we use dogs to point/flush/retrieve in my former home. We never shot/hunted anything for just pleasure, there is always a purpose, and it had better be one that you could look Mother Nature in the face to justify and validate it without any twinge of guilt, otherwise the repercussions are not comfortable thoughts;) I have an inner sense of karma taking care of things we can’t, otherwise it would be too overwhelming to live with. Whether its a bat accidentally visiting my living room, or a giant spider, injuring or killing something just because it makes me uncomfortable or frightened isn’t any justification. Full stop. Even the sparrow hawk that targeted my extensive songbird feeding stations, several times daily to my frustrated but understanding annoyance, it still NEVER occurred to me to ‘remove’ her; indeed, rescue, raise, rehab, release has been my life’s work, 3 baby pippistrelle bats & a female kestrel were the last creatures I successfully, joyfully worked with before my job/home was made redundant (dairy farm). Moving to a smaller home/plot of land limits me, but still able to continue helping songbirds, other creatures, as the neighbours knew of me, before I was even fully moved in. After an brain injury and cancer diagnosis put limits on my outdoor activities, I’ve focused on supporting those who cherish, with strong desires to protect our wildlife. Although I still have personal beliefs about hunting/shooting, none of them have ever, and would never, include the sort of unnecessary, cruel, barbaric practices held by those living in their fantasy class status. One that has changed so much, that even as we still have a RF, and Large grand estates, as long as they adhere to their promises, and we have those like Alastair and Angus in charge, I at least feel a comfort and hope that people will realize there can be a happy balanced opinion without feeling ashamed, or hiding in the corner I’ve been following from over the last year or more. Please forgive long, ramble, as it genuinely is a quirk from a permanent brain injury, and attempts to edit have always resulted in a delete. So, deep breath, here we are, sharing finally my thoughts. It is with deep gratitude that I also wish to say thank you to each and every person that has been a part of this incredible effort, no matter how large, small, loud, silent, every one counts, and soon may our sky’s be honoured again with those birds that rightly own it, and will no longer fear being displaced from their home, one that was theirs centuries before any of us. Cheers, and warmest karma regards to all, Ladybudd

    1. I do agree with you, here game is a commodity; the average person does not have the right to shoot ‘for the pot’, except for the elite, and farmers, firearms are banned, as are bows and crossbows for hunting.
      However, there are always some who will find their way round any obstacle.

    2. A quick addendum to my prior comment. When I refer to a “Class” …it is NOT a designation re wealth (although DGS is extraordinarily expensive), nor a reference to “old family/estate” owners, as many also are anti DGS, and as I mentioned above, walk -up, wild, stalk hunting has always been something I was raised doing, with a focus on not only being able to raise my family on a significantly high, and healthy diet if wild game, but also with a view to conservation balance. This has always been managed by well trained DNR (department of natural resources) conservation officers (my uncle is one in Minnesota, another hunting state), and the people involved to understand and keep that balance, those educated in the science, environment, animal, wildlife welfare, agriculture, and more, are all dedicated working together to collate yearly what an appropriate quota, the number of licenses for hunters (applied via lottery). For everything from deer, turkey, bear, pheasant, all forms of wild hunting, and fishing, the dedication needed to try and manage an ever increasing, at times exploding population of wildlife, balancing that with ecology, the impacts of overpopulated areas with areas of decline, (I’ve seen more dead deer roadside than I’ve ever seen taken in a full season by any community), so having a dedicated team monitoring all forms of wildlife, even in just one state, is an extraordinary feat, yet it seems to work, and I often wonder if by utilizing some of the similar methods that could apply appropriately, not just to an estate, but the hunter as well. Not to mention when we get a deer licence, we are designated as to whether we are able to take a buck or a doe, as well as seperate licence for each animal,(you use your license as a tag, and if caught with an untagged animal, fines/penalties are severe and harsh). There are also limits to what you may take/possess daily/season for an amount of other species, i.e. pheasants, ducks, birds (depending on the state, as some will allow dove season for example in a state with a high population, but not in a state without), and if again, caught with a bag in hand (or box of fish), over the allowed amount, severe fines, revoke of license, potential ban of future licenses for 1-10+ years, depending on the severity of offense. We already have wildlife crime officers, so what if we implemented a system that includes them or an connected team, to monitor not only populations, (I assume they already do to some extent from what I’ve read about stalking deer) but allow them to have the same powers as police, but additional ability to fine, penalise, revoke license, confiscate the animals AND guns. I was told I could legally have my gun collection here in the UK, as I was qualified per the criteria legally needed, as well a licensed hunting/firearms teacher, and references both sides of the pond to pass the police checks. The exceptional criteria to retain my handguns/bow, was membership with an archery/gun club, was also cleared. However, I chose to sell and gift my entire collection to close Family/Friends, as I felt strongly that making my home in the UK also meant dedicating myself to learning the majority culture society norms first, and whilst I DO have freinds here who stalk, wild hunt and fish, I decided against opting to resume that particular pursuit. The 12+ years I’ve lived here reinforces that, as I still have access to venison (albiet very expensive), and similar game that I can trace its providence if I so choose; and whilst I admit I miss having a freezer full of venison etc to last a year until next season, thus avoiding store meat, I am comforted with the significant difference between US and UK food, animal welfare standards. Intensively farmed, GM, hormones, pesticides in most US food is extraordinarily difficult to avoid, vs the very strict criteria of the UK, as Soil Association & criteria for organic food is world class, even Non-organic food has animal welfare standards that are still the best in the world imo. I’ve shared that with an experienced, educated opinion formed via working on my Grandfathers farm, his dedication to organic farming in the US before it was even a word, to then working as a dairy manager on an organic dairy farm here. Not having to trade or lower my ethics when purchasing meat, definitely impacted my choice to not resume my former lifestyle; but mostly, it’s feeling comfortable enough to dedicate myself to conservation, wildlife, and devoted passionate protection for our raptors, whilst balancing it with what I still believe are ethical, fair “management” hunting practices. Realising there are many others who also agree there can be balance, not feeling pressured into a strictly anti shoot/anti hunt position, gives me the courage to add another voice, and without the fear that held me back previously. I do hope that adds some clarity, and again, apologies for length, hopefully with practice this will become easier for me to share, and then edit without my prior automatic ‘delete’ reaction taking over. Warmest regards, thank you to everyone, supporting one of my most passionate goals, to see our glorious raptors freely and widely flying our skies. Ladybudd

      1. In my opinion the US form of hunting is much more acceptable than here. In our heavily populated islands, we do not have much ‘wild” land for our wildlife to inhabit. DGS is not hunting, more like some fairground shooting booth. A pheasant shoot is merely releasing non-native, farmed birds for a few weeks before they are rounded up by low paid, back-pocket ‘serfs’ again, to be shot in a shooting gallery type scenario. To achieve these so called country sports, much damage is done to the environment and wildlife, as anyone who reads these pages or lives/works/visits our countryside knows. Thank-you for not participating in these damaging practices here. Please spread the word to your American contacts and ask them not to patronise UK shoots, however tempting they are made to seem.

        1. Thank you Northern & Jill for your replies. They are more significant than you know, because they are comments that have allowed me to be less fearful of sharing an opinion, albiet a bit more unusual in the circumstances regarding my stance on hunting is based on experience in an different nation/culture, one that I rarely read about here. Reluctance to add my voice for fear of being targeted with 100% anti-hunting/shooting of any sort, held back what I hoped would be an contribution that explained how, from a different point of view, that conservation, wildlife management, and hunting can be achieved with balance if properly implemented guidelines, morals, ethics and laws are clear, strictly adhered to, and penalties severe for non compliance. As mentioned, hunting culture in much (not all) of the US is very different; indeed, we do have our share of poachers, trophy hunting, illegal practices and unfortunately, Farmed/Canned hunts. A majority of family raised hunter/farmers DO have an passionate love for nature, wildlife and as mentioned before, hunting for “the pot” and genuine population control has been the creed for most of us. Indeed, if one were caught targeting, or even worse, shooting/killing a bird of prey, you had better hope the person observing it, is not out legally hunting, i.e. Armed, themselves. Birds of prey are especially cherished, held in high esteem with reverence by even the most avid hunters, a symbol so embraced, that The Bald Eagle is the official national bird. With a strong native American influence in most states, it’s with great pride to share stories over a campfire about how one was able to experience the wonder of watching a pair of eagles, from a tree stand, raising a brood, swooping along the river hunting for fish for their youngster. I was honoured to watch the same family 3 years in a row, and it’s one of my fondest memories in spite of going home empty handed most days. The protective and emotional feelings of our beautiful raptors have been shared via poems, songs, stories for generations and centuries…and God help the idiot that any landowner/hunter catches doing ANYTHING at all to endanger or persecute one; as they better have really good medical insurance. Because a trip to the ER with an “accidental Bum full of pellets” is an expensive, and fodder for hunting circles statewide…Having your face on the front page of the local press is quite embarrassing and shaming as well. That said, being allowed to openly now share my views here on this forum, albiet a little unorthodox in the UK perhaps, but meant with the most sincere belief that one CAN be whole heartedly aligned with this incredible, and inspiring group of people, and still believe that some forms of hunting/shooting are not ALL bad. Indeed…I suspect the flock of pheasants that started to randomly appear at my former Dedicated Bird feeding Stations/sanctuary, growing as they shared their newly found ‘food source’ and an absolute delight for me to expand my feeding area, are potentially still being fed there (friends moved into my former cottage)…leaving a neighbouring ‘farmer’ bemused and confused as to where his flock of pheasants disappeared to;) Last I heard, they were still visiting, and roosting on my safe, and distant from any shooting lands…I smile when I think how karma does indeed work in serious ways;) Thank you all for the welcome (and your infinite tolerance and patience of my rather ranking tomes). It’s a pleasure to know such dedicated, devoted people, and knowing the kestrel I left behind at the same farm, is still showing up and delighting the family now there, is one of my greatest joys and memories. Cheers, warmest regards, Ladybudd

  10. Just how much out of Touch is this Idiot shooting is not just about as he says kill it’s about the conservation of our country side Hundreds of people take part though out the year on work party days caring for the country side the health benefits alone to the people that take part

    1. It isn’t Conservation in it’s widest concept though; It still damages the land with Lead shot, medicated grit, Illegal poisons, Muirburning over blanket bog, Land drainage, deforestation, and causing flooding and extreme hardship to those affected in the communities downstream.
      Look at the land on a grouse moor, Really look; It looks like Army Camouflage with no wildlife to be seen apart from grouse. That is NOT Conservation, but devastation. A tract of land holding only one dominant species by numbers, is Monoculture, and is unsustainable, except by strong artificial means, as listed above.
      Also, if you are conserving something, You conserve All of it, Raptors, mice, voles, snakes, lizards, insects, Mountain Hares (our only indigenous Hare), small birds, endangered birds and mammals, including foxes.

  11. I am deeply saddened you are aloud to publish your discrimitive opinion without looking into the facts of a grouse Moor.
    Compare the number of fledged birds of pray on a grouse Moor and an RSPB reserve, then remember the RSPB are being paid by the tax payer to produce these magnificent birds and they are still more prolific on a managed, privately funded grouse Moor. Mountain hares are the same, as is all the other red listed and vulnerable wading birds. Like the Curlew and golden plover.
    As for burnt moors, come on… Have you seen the Mars bar video, where a gamekeeper puts a Mars bar in the moss on a Moor and after he has preformed his cool burn over the top of it he pulls it out undamaged, removes the wrapper and eats it???
    This burning not only creates a patchwork of varying habitats for ground nesting birds it creates fire breaks for when you “townies” as you called yourself leave a disposable BBQ burning in the somer months.
    Another point is the Langholm Moor project, when keepered for grouse shooting there was loads of grouse and hen harriers. Go there now there is no keeper and not many of anything.
    My point is there is a far greater number of animals on a managed Moor compared to one left to go wild. We would be making a great mistake to ban grouse shooting because harvesting a food source in such a way that dose not sit well with people who don’t understand all that goes into it.

    1. Really, Mr Hogg?
      ‘Harvesting a food source?’ with all the shot birds which can be found discarded in sackloads along the roads? What are they feeding?
      Where are your statistics to back up your assertions?. This Site can bring many statistics to back itself up.
      How about you read a few and then come back to us when you can quote chapter and verse.

    2. Fully fledged Birds of PRAY? One would hope they wouldn’t need to, but would be allowed to live and breed without the danger of being shot or poisoned. They are not more prolific on a (managed, Privately funded) Grouse moor. The only thing prolific is the Grouse, artificially overstocked for shooting.
      Mountain Hares are shot by the hundreds, if not thousands on these same Moors.
      I am not a ‘townie’, and I do not take disposable barbecues to easily burned countryside. I have great respect for it, but I deplore the Grouse moors, and most of those who shoot without a thought for the consequences.
      As regards to Langham Moor, it has been bought out by the locals (and more power to them) to rewild and establish a more sustainable habitat, also to provide activity possibilities for the public, and hopefully to partially reforest.

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