Grouse moor lobby group furious about public reporting peatland fires to RSPB

Last autumn the RSPB launched an online reporting system for members of the public to document moorland fires (muirburn) to help build a picture of where heather moorland is being set alight as part of so-called grouse moor ‘management’ (see here).

[Gamekeepers setting fire to a grouse moor in NE Scotland a few days ago. Photo by RPUK contributor]

A few days ago the RSPB renewed its call for muirburn reports from the public with the aid of a free APP to make it a simple process (see here).

The RSPB also provided this infographic analysing the reports it had received between October 2021 – January 2022, providing evidence that muirburn was taking place on peat which is obviously of huge concern in this period of climate crisis. There was also evidence that burning was taking place in protected areas which is now illegal unless an individual licence has been granted:

England’s grouse moor owners’ lobby group, the Moorland Association, reacted to the RSPB’s request for information with the following tweet:

Gosh, it’s almost as though they’ve got something to hide.

And they do like hiding things. Author Gill Lewis responded to the tweet with a perfectly reasonable and polite reply, explaining (as if they didn’t know) why setting fire to grouse moors is an issue. In response, the Moorland Association used the new Twitter feature to ‘hide’ Gill’s message, making it more difficult for people to read it:

The RSPB also responded to the Moorland Association’s tweet, again explaining for the hard of understanding why these reports are important:

The moorland burning season continues to April 15th (which can be extended to 30th April in Scotland with landowners’ permission) so if you’re heading out to the hills, do consider downloading the RSPB’s APP and sending in reports – they’ll be put to good use and will help hold the grouse moor owners to account. Reports are welcome from England and Scotland.

UPDATE 9th March 2022: RSPB records peatland fires on grouse moors in supposedly protected areas (here)

14 thoughts on “Grouse moor lobby group furious about public reporting peatland fires to RSPB”

  1. Indeed, it does look like they have something to hide.
    Otherwise why would they hide Gill Lewis’ reply?
    But obviously not brave enough to hide the response from the RSPB. I wonder why?
    I hope that the RSPB APP does at it is hoped. Although if there is illegal burning I doubt very much many will be prosecuted sadly.

  2. Of course they’re angry – they know this is the big issue, the one that will finally nail their sad and sorry little ‘industry’. “Shoot Grouse for fun – hasten climate change and speed up loss of biodiversity”. They’ll need a PR magician to sell that one!

    1. The PM may need a new job soon (fingers crossed), he is an ideal candidate for the Grouse Killers Ass. PR.


  3. The cairngorm National park should be having a nosey around the north east corner of the park, 4 days of heather burning last week and all for grouse on that estate.

  4. Landowners and employees on grouse moors cannot be trusted to operate within the law/ regulations.

    Gathering information on muirburn is essential to understand the true extent of what is happening in these very sensitive habitats.

    How many controlled burns become uncontrolled burns?

    How many ‘accidental’ burns are actually deliberate.

  5. Why are they furious it’s not as if folk are not reporting facts ( unlike them!). If as they claim it is a good management tool they have nothing to fear, then again if they are burning where they should not they must bear the consequences. Of course it should all be banned on deep or shallow peat ( of greater risk of drying out due to burning and thus of oxidising)

  6. I wonder if the M A would take the same vocal drivel against a member of the public if they reported someone tampering with their killing traps??? Cutting holes in Crow traps. Setting off spring traps. Turning over grit trays.

  7. Muirburn does not increase biodiversity – it increases the monoculture that is heather production. Why would gamekeepers go out of their way to do something that does not increase grouse production? Why waste time and money plus the risk of fire just to increase biodiversity? Grouse eat heather; more heather, more (unnaturally high populations) grouse – end of story.

    Drive through the highlands and you will see a more diverse flora in the verges than a few more metres away where muirburn has occurred. Carry on to areas of the highlands where there is no muirburn and guess what even more biodiversity; stand of Scot Pines, Juniper, Heather, grasses etc all living in natural harmony.

  8. I always thought openness, honesty and transparency were at the heart of any good organisation?

    What has the grouse shooting industry to fear if it is operating within the confines of the regulations, protecting sensitive habitats, and ensuring all burns are carried out with due regard to the climate change emergency/ extinction crisis?

    One would have thought the MA would have welcomed this RSPB initiative as it would provide valuable evidence that they are strictly complying with the regulations and codes of practice regarding heather burning?

    Or is this a bit like raptor persecution, in what actually takes place, doesn’t always match what is said or promised?

  9. The RSPB are to be congratulated on this initiative. This is an important area where concerned members of the public will be able to help bring wildlife criminals to account-in a climate crisis, the burning of heather moorland simply to encourage young heather growth so people who enjoy killing Red Grouse for fun can kill even more Red Grouse for fun is not only irresponsible, it’s selfish and as we all know(despite the pathetic drivel that we hear from Moorland owners where this sort of thing occurs) is downright crazy!-I will certainly be downloading the APP!

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