Grouse shooting lobby quietly seething over proposed licensing scheme

Following on from yesterday’s news that the Scottish Government has finally launched a public consultation on its proposed grouse moor licensing scheme in an attempt to address the ongoing issue of illegal raptor persecution, amongst other things (here), the grouse shooting lobby is quietly seething in response.

A joint statement has been issued by the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC), the Scottish Countryside Alliance, the Scottish Association for Country Sports, Scottish Land & Estates, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups (basically the gamekeepers again, and ironically many of these regional moorland groups either have been recently, or currently are, under investigation for alleged raptor persecution).

The statement reads:

The introduction of yet another layer of legislation, regulation and bureaucracy must not hamper what is a world-class rural business sector. Done wrongly, licensing could put at risk much-needed rural employment, as well as the outstanding conservation work undertaken on a daily basis by moorland managers.

Licensing grouse shooting is ostensibly aimed at tackling raptor persecution, but it is abundantly clear that over many years a massive amount of progress has been made in dealing with this issue and incidents are at a historic low – progress that has been recognised by the Scottish Government.

We are also concerned that the licensing of Muirburn – the controlled burning of heather – could, done wrongly, infringe upon efforts to combat devastating wildfires and promote carbon capture.

When all this is taken into consideration, it is difficult to see why licensing is necessary – and that is why our organisations have been opposed from the outset.

We do, however, acknowledge the political reality that Scottish Government has the power to license grouse shooting and muirburn. It is vital that these licensing schemes are proportionate, transparent and workable. If a scheme were to be overbearing, it would threaten so much good work.

Grouse moor management is playing a key role in tackling climate change and reversing biodiversity loss. It also provides widespread direct and indirect employment, and contributes to Scotland’s diverse tourism offering. This should not be disadvantaged and any licensing schemes introduced should be straightforward to operate and not detrimental to rural enterprise.

All our organisations will participate in the consultation and make our case clear.


[Chris Packham holds a dead male hen harrier, killed after its leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

They just don’t get it, do they?

Their constant denial (e.g. see here for the most recent absurd claim) about the scale of illegal raptor persecution, and their consistent failure to bring it under control, over many, many years, is what has led to their current predicament. And yet still they’re claiming that ‘progress has been made’ and that the Scottish Government ‘recognises’ this ‘progress’.

Really? Give it up, chaps, you’ve been caught with your pants down too many times.

Have a read of the Scottish Government’s Environment Minister’s statement in 2020 when she announced that there could be no further delay to the introduction of a grouse moor licensing scheme because:

“…despite our many attempts to address this issue, every year birds of prey continue to be killed or disappear in suspicious circumstances on or around grouse moors“.

And then read the Environment Minister’s foreword in the latest official report on wildlife crime, published in April 2022, where you’ll see that the Government recognises that illegal raptor persecution is still a massive problem, hence the introduction of this new legislation designed to hammer several dozen nails into the coffins of the criminals responsible.

The grouse shooting lobby says, “… is difficult to see why licensing is necessary…..”

If ever there was an example of wilful blindness…

13 thoughts on “Grouse shooting lobby quietly seething over proposed licensing scheme”

  1. They say ‘efforts to promote carbon capture’. How does that work alongside burning, then?

    Would they have studies with real, measured numbers to show?

  2. The same tired and discredited arguments about how Grouse Shooting is essential for conservation and the rural economy.

    There needs to be a UK wide ban on all muirburn (heather burning). In England the partial ban on Peat Soils greater than 40cm (blanket bog) has demonstrated Estates can use a mower to cut patches and fire breaks and some of these mowers also shred the brash – if reducing fuel load is essential. Mowing reduces fire risk just as much as rotational burning. Moors for the Future are the experts:

  3. It still really irks me that these people try to justify their ‘business’ by claiming they are ‘conservationists’. Let’s be clear here, they are in the business of providing entertainment to people who enjoy killing things (birds) for their own amusement. That business involves land management practices that are specifically tailored to a specific outcome; providing an environment that is conducive to providing entertainment to people who enjoy killing things (birds) for their own amusement.

    This is involves deliberate and targeted interference in both the naturally occurring landscape and it’s flora and fauna. Anything which interferes with their business objective is bulldozed, cut down, burnt or killed. This is not ‘conservation’. Any species that is left untouched is not part of some deliberate conservation effort, it is simply because it does not interfere with the business model.

    I concede that some estates do occasionally make some effort with regard to genuine conservation efforts but this is rare and does not make up for the rest of their destructive activities. It is also, in my view, simply a PR exercise, a justifiable on-cost like advertising. It’s a deliberate attempt to create a ‘positive, healthy’ image to offset the reality that these places are providing entertainment to people who enjoy killing things (birds) for their own amusement.

    There are now some very serious efforts being made by non shooting estates to genuinely conserve and recreate natural landscapes and ecosystems, and we should not allow the recreational killing industry to usurp and parasitise the conservation movement. There is a dark heart to the shooting fraternity which no amount of PR or other ‘good works’ can conceal; they kill things for fun and we should not admire them for it.

  4. “a world class rural business sector” – “world class” is discredited Johnsonian spin to be invoked when inflating, deceiving or polishing a turd.

    Tin-eared and out of touch to the last.

  5. Oh lordy where does one start with this utter tosh!

    I noted a particular stand-out gem amidst all the rest of their lies and bilge: “Grouse moor management is playing a key role in tackling climate change and reversing biodiversity loss.” Really? FFS, they must be on a different planet to the one I live on.

  6. I have spent most of my long life learning about the people and other forms of Life, survive as humanely as possible. From the start, I have stayed loyal to the various charities, and their brave workers, by my signing petitions, donating and going on protest marches. With the opening up Eastern Europe, my friends and I organised international environmental youth exchanges with every country in that bloc, even the USSR. Glasgow youths were even sent to the Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota, to see for themselves the sadness of that depressing way of life, and damage to the Prairies. Conferences were attended all over Europe to give Scotland a presence by our youth. Why am I stating all this? Raptor Persecution has arrived as a logical coming to maturity of a long, long process of time, to give a strong and determined focal point, and meeting place for stalwart people who have needed a centre whence they can state their humane and logical concerns about the centuries of abuse to the Scottish environment and its wildlife.

    What emerged from our peregrinations in Eastern Europe and the Great Plains, where Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought for the “old way”, was that an opportunity had arisen to help Scotland become a model for the resurgence of the natural environment throughout Europe, but resources were unavailable, and our politicians were in the stranglehold of centuries of landowners, and others who were reactionary in their use of the natural landscape. Moreover, the education system required “adjustment” to introduce studies on how improvement could be made in humanely treating animals and the environment, and the surviving brutalities of the industrial age salved and poverty dealt with. However, students were entering our colleges and universities who were wanting change for their country to become intolerant of blood sports, cruel forms of farming, harmful trawling, land ownership. Today, we have an indignant majority of more-informed people, who want these exploiters of our landscapes subdued, and for our politicians to be disabused of their false claims that their shooting industry is being managed according to modern humane methods, and providing essential employment.

  7. ” Another layer of regulation.” There is very little regulation in reality and that which does exist is hardly vigorously policed.
    Raptor persecution is NOT at an all time low or if it is it is still far too commonplace. In an ideal world of course there would be none. They are looking at the level of prosecution and/or convictions not as should be the cases reported or even the dodgy failure rates of breeding or absences where birds should be. Thus a bogus argument and they doubtless know that.
    Recent work has shown the wildfire argument to again be essentially bogus.
    Takling climate change and biodiversity loss, laughable nonsense as is the employment argument.
    In reality the legitimate have little or nothing to fear from this, even though they don’t want it. That they really don’t want it of course speaks loudly as to why a rigorously policed licensing system is actually vital.

  8. I’ve. A feeling that the people employed in this shooting are really poorly paid, I’m sure that were the moors properly
    managed for the general public not just the very wealthy,, there would be many more opportunities for more satisfying employment

  9. Had to laugh at “proportionate, transparent and workable.”

    The very ethos that the grouse shooting lobby align with (not).

  10. The shooting industry had been warned time and time again that they were drinking in the last chance saloon, they chose to ignore the warnings and now the bar tab needs to be met.

  11. How thick are these people?!!…surely if they just left our birds of prey alone and stopped persecuting them then there wouldn’t be any need for licensing…it’s not rocket science!!!
    And as for shooting being important for local rural economies!!!….does the money go that far or does it just line the pockets of the land owners!!

  12. My god they are a dose trotting out that tired old BS. Not sure who it’s targeted at cos anyone with half a brain and interest in subjects like wildlife, eco tourism, hiking etc. will not take kindly to such insulting rubbish

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s