To coincide with the start of the Inglorious 12th (the opening of the grouse shooting season) last week, The Herald ran this piece written by Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland and a founding member of Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform.
It’s reproduced in full here:
No one knows how many wild red grouse will be shot during the Scottish shooting season starting on 12 August. Neither do we know how many of those birds will be left wounded and suffering as they wait to be put out of their misery. This is because grouse shooting is almost entirely unregulated.
There are estimates that the UK wide number of grouse killed each year is around 600,000. If that’s true, then it would seem likely that around half will be shot in Scotland.
But how do the grouse withstand an annual carnage of around 300,000 birds shot for entertainment? The answer is an innocuous word – “management”.
Grouse moor management means protecting the grouse from anything that threatens them to make sure there are enough to shoot for entertainment.
Birds of prey eat grouse and although they have full legal protection there is a mysterious absence of mating pairs on Scottish shooting estates.
Mountain hares are also seen as a threat as they are thought to spread disease or compete for food. For years and years on average 26,000 were killed each year to increase the number of grouse that could be killed for entertainment. The good news here is that the Government recently introduced a licensing scheme but we don’t yet know to what extent it will stop this killing.
Foxes, stoats and weasels also naturally predate on grouse. The League Against Cruel Sports’ recently published report, Calculating Cruelty, based on a survey of seven Scottish estates calculated that traps and snares are responsible for the deaths of around 200,000 animals each year, 40% of which weren’t even the target species. All to increase the number of grouse to be shot.
Crows and ravens also naturally take grouse in the wild. You need a license to shoot a raven but no one knows how many crows are captured and killed in cage traps or simply shot.
All this killing to kill goes on year in, year out.
Some people think grouse shooting brings in lots of money and jobs. But the truth is that this is just wrong. According to the industry’s own figures grouse shooting brings in £23 million a year. But when you consider that just one Tesco store can turn over around £44 million a year, it becomes clear what a drop in the ocean grouse shooting contributes to the economy.
However, the paltry contribution this so-called industry makes to the Scottish economy is nothing compared to the immorality of killing hundreds and thousands of animals to make sure it’s possible to kill hundreds of thousands more animals purely for entertainment.
This is why at the beginning of this grouse shooting season the League is calling on the Scottish Government to prevent animals being killed for the purpose of increasing the population of another animal so that more can be shot for entertainment. Killing to kill must stop.