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Towlersonsafari

Driven Grouse Shooting a UK Disgrace?

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The Case against Driven Grouse Shooting

 

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I would like today to convince you of the inequity, the evil no less of the peculiar British Pastime of Driven Grouse Shooting, especially as currently practiced on ,what can only be described as , an industrial scale.

Here the aim is to kill as many Red Grouse ( a subspecies of the Willow Grouse) as possible with the sportsman hiding in butts or blinds , shotguns at the ready,whilst the grouse are driven by beaters towards them. Guests paying for a day’s shooting can pay, collectively, up to £30,000 for a day’s adventure killing about a million birds in the UK every year.

Today there are over one million hectares of land devoted to grouse moors in Scotland,(Scottish Land and Estates 2013). I hope to convince you that the collateral damage caused to Birds of prey, to ground predators , Mountain Hares and to the environment as a whole, including damaging valuable carbon storage and increasing flooding, is in a modern enlightened society something that can no longer be accepted. I hope to persuade you that at worst grouse moors should be vigorously licenced, at best they should now be confined to history along with bear baiting ,cock fighting and the Feudal system.

To help those who do not reside in the Uk, Grouse shooting and sporting estates in the form we can recognise now, grew up in Victorian times where wealthy landowners in Scotland and the North of England invited guests to shoot grouse or deer. From the start large scale burning of heather to encourage new growth and drastic predator control was practiced. For example on the 6500 acre Glengarry Estate from 1837-1840 kills were recorded of 246 pine marten,198 wildcat 48 otter 27 White Tailed Eagle and 15 Golden Eagle. The killing alas, even though it is illegal continues.

 

From the historical Victorian model an increasing practice has developed to lease out moors or sell them to shooting consortium's, or to have specialist firms run the estates for maximum profit. It is to describe these businesses that I use the justified term “industrial”

 

To make a grouse moor pay, and to allow large numbers to be shot, you have to have large numbers of Grouse. It is illegal to kill Birds of Prey in the UK, for any reason, and it is illegal to disturb their nests.Yet every year such birds, from common buzzards and Red kites, to Golden and White Tailed Eagles are illegally killed on or near grouse moors according to the RSPB, 11–15% of the hen harrier population on the Scottish mainland are destroyed each year.

In Scotland, the illegal use of poison during 1981–2000 was disproportionately associated with grouse moors.

In the central and eastern Highlands of Scotland, where grouse moor management predominates, the golden eagle population has continued to decline to levels where increasingly large areas of suitable habitat are unoccupied by breeding pairs.

In the absence of persecution it is likely that the population could expand to fill this increasingly vacant but apparently suitable habitat and would have a secure long-term future.

In the Yorkshire Dales, average productivity for peregrine nesting attempts on grouse moors was only 0.68, compared to 2.07 for nests at least 2 km away from grouse moors.5 T

 

The list goes on, Ladies and Gentleman. In 2014 around 20 buzzards and Kites ere found poisoned in the Black Isle area of Scotland. In one incident.

In February this year a man was seen on a moor in a National Park, the Peak District dressed in camouflage gear with a shotgun lying in wait near a decoy male Hen Harrier, a distinctive pale bird of great beauty. When he realized he was being filmed he left.. There can only be one reason for this , to try to attract male hen Harriers to kill them. Here is the link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-36141199

You will no doubt make your own mind up, members of the jury, after seeing the film yourself. In England last year 5 male Harriers breeding on protected land mysteriously disappeared. England ,a country that should have over 300 birds breeding has less than 10.It is their misfortune that they chose to breed and hunt over moorland.

But what of Mountain Hares? In spite of all the efforts to the contrary Red Grouse numbers on intensive Grouse moors have always fluctuated. One of the main problems that may affect large congregations of Grouse may be Tick disease. Inspite of the fact that there is no evidence to support the contention that Mountain Hares in numbers add to the Grouse getting Tick disease and in spite of the fact that Scottish National Heritage asks for voluntary restraint, or that mountain Hare numbers are decreasing, in winter large numbers of hares are chased and shot by 4 wheel drive mounted “ sportsmen” Anyone wanting to see what a truck load of dead mountain hare looks like can see here. It does not look pretty

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/more-mountain-hares-slaughtered-in-the-angus-glens/

Ground predators including wild cats can still be caught in traps set on grouse moors.

 

Now I would like to turn to the environment in general.

By keeping a flock of sheep on such moors, to act as “Tick mops” the grouse moor owners qualify for agricultural subsidies, so we can pay them for the privilege.

Another benefit of being classified as agricultural land means that the planning laws are less controlling so those magnificent wide open vistas can and are despoiled by temporary 4 x 4 tracks scaring the heather, new grouse butts, and even electric fencing Electric fencing can kill large endangered birds such as Capercaille, and concentrate Red deer so that they cause more damage in other areas. You will have to decide members of the jury, if you find fences in a “wilderness” visually acceptable.

Another condition affecting Grouse is a parasitic worm. One of the methods now used to combat this is to coat the grit Grouse eat with the medication derived from Flubendazole. It is often placed on grit in the environment. Nobody knows what happens if it gets into the food chain, or if there is an environmental impact in the medium or long term.

Finally, members of the jury indiscriminate burning leads to reduction in sphagnum moss and damage to the peat layer. The water run off is quicker and the ability to hold water is reduced. A five year study by the University of Leeds found (The EMBER study) found burning impacting adversely on peat quality and composition, and on water quality. In June 2015 the UK statutory advisory Committee on Climate Change said,

“Wetland habitats, including the majority of upland areas with carbon-rich peat soils, are in poor condition. The damaging practice of burning peat to increase grouse yields continues, including on internationally protected sites.” (Committee on Climate Change 2015

 

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I ask you now to consider your verdict.You may think that allowing Driven Grouse Shooting to continue in its current form is on a par with Maltese hunters shooting spring migrants, or indeed Elephant poaching.

I invite you to condemn it

 

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@@Towlersonsafari - you make a good case for the prosecution but before a Jury can reach a verdict it needs to hear the case for the defence.

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I had hoped that @@Towlersonsafari's diatribe would have been strangled at birth by @@Game Warden. It is so stuffed with distortions and half truths that it is hard to believe that it wasn't motivated by other than an extreme animal rights agenda. If one starts from this point of view, those who shoot for pleasure become enemies and, because shooting for pleasure is costly, they become "class" enemies to boot. If readers want a rational debate on the up and down-sides of grouse moor management from the conservation perspective, I would be delighted to participate. Until my retirement over a decade ago, I was heavily involved in grouse research and feel, therefore, that I have something to offer. However, I'd rather not start by having to make a point by point rebuttal of an emotionally-driven rant.

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@@douglaswise - my post had been an attempt to seek a rational input from anyone with knowledge of grouse shooting. What I had been hoping for was a calm explanation of any benefits there may be from "The Glorious Twelfth".

 

I actually have an open mind until I hear both sides but terminology with "diatribe" "distortions" "half truths" "emotionally-driven rant" does nothing to assist me with determining the facts that you obviously consider are seriously missing.

 

I'm starting to regret that I asked for a counter viewpoint.

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@@Caracal - I fully appreciate that you were quite genuinely asking for an alternative viewpoint and that my reply was, from this perspective, totally lacking in information of the type you were seeking. For this, I apologise. I was, in fact, hoping for a response from @@Game Warden. If he considers driven grouse shooting to be a suitable and relevant subject for a Safaritalk debate (and, given his previous recent reference to the death of a kite in Yorkshire, he may well consider it relevant)), I would be happy to participate. However, that said, I'd rather start a new and non-emotionally-charged debate on the subject rather than responding to a characterisation of grouse shooting that is so wide of the mark that rebuttals would be endless and still likely to leave readers confused. I will not respond further until @@Game Warden makes a judgement call. In other words, I'm pleading that "driven grouse shooting" is not guilty and am reserving its defence.

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Since I've been called to adjudicate, a debate is a debate, and as Safaritalk is a forum for people to post topics they wish to discuss, discuss the issue, or not. If you do so, do it in a manner which is considered well mannered and conforms to the Safaritalk rules. I don't know much about the issue, @@Towlersonsafari has put forward some points for discussion, yet the manner of your response @@douglaswise with phrases like strangled at birth may well quash anyone's will to respond. I think @@Caracal's call for opposing opinion was an invitation for further discussion, whether or not you wish to take part.

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I think that because it is not a subject that attracts much attention, I do think it is worthy of debate, and I would in all honesty welcome opposing views especially from someone as well qualified as @@douglaswise, whose passion on matters that interest him, and indeed somewhat mischievous tone I do respect and enjoy even if I seem to always be on opposite sides of the debate!

There is a petition via the UK government to ban driven grouse shooting.that will never happen in my lifetime but I do think independent regulation is now mandatory. Another issue I did not raise as it is not just a grouse shooting one is the use of lead shot in shooting in the UK generally-I think lead shot has been outlawed in a lot of Europe and certainly in fishing lead weights are i think not used and there are alternatives but even small amounts of lead are dangerous in the environment and particularly in the food chain

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I have no problems with grouse shooting.

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I must say that I am interested in @@douglaswise response. I suppose that is why I enjoy Safaritalk, there is always someone who can contribute a more logical perspective.

 

I don't know much about grouse shooting, but have a very good friend who is a fanatic shooter, and spends a small fortune on doing so each year. To me that only translates to giving grouse a desirable value and hence they are looked after.

 

I find some of the stereotypical bigotry towards shooters in UK very similar to that of hunters who visit Africa.

 

I would like to ask - what the implications would be if you completely stopped shooting in the UK?

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Hello @@Bugs I think the UK situation in respect of driven grouse shooting which is a peculiarly British activity can be used as a lesson of how not to do it. Please note that I have made no comment on the ethics of shooting per se in my submission nor have I said shooting per se is wrong to advance my case.All the points I raise can be independently verified.They are not rants or half truths.Sadly they are facts.The decision the UK needs to make is that are there any advantages to this form of land use and do they outweigh the disadvantages? I Would say no they don't. As to grouse having a value.The law in the UK is that nobody owns grouse even if it is on their land until it is dead! I know sustainable use is a subject dear to your heart but this I would argue is unsustainable use.

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Subsequent to @@Game Warden's response, I have decided to address various criticisms of grouse shooting while acknowledging that, insofar as predator control is concerned, there will those that will still find the comments relevant to this aspect of the subject to be less than satisfactory. I am somewhat time-constrained because I'm off to the Pantanal later in the month. I will therefore point out various useful sources of literature. For those who are seriously interested in the subject of driven grouse shooting and in understanding its place within the wider aspects of moorland management, I cannot recommend the website of The Moorland Association strongly enough. (I'm not au fait with the creation of links, but the website is easy to find by googling the organisation's title. Perhaps, if the debate goes further, someone who is more computer literate than I can provide a link.) For details of grouse research and, in particular, for consideration of the benefits of predator control, I would recommend visiting the relevant sections of the website of The Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust, in particular their Langholm and Otterburn studies).

 

At the outset, I should explain that I can fully understand why those without rural roots might find the pastime of those who kill defenceless birds for pleasure to be repugnant. Countrymen tend to live within the natural (or, in the case of the UK, semi-natural) world and don't grow up with the death-denying culture of many townsmen who are outside observers of nature rather than living in it. Clearly, for those with animal rights beliefs, shooting pheasants for sport is scarcely less heinous than shooting peasants. I am not trying to change minds on this issue, but I am very much trying to convince potential critics that driven grouse shooting, on the whole, confers very substantial conservation benefits at minimal public cost. It is important to appreciate that the management required to produce a shootable surplus of grouse confers similar benefits to a suite of other non-target ground nesting bird species that are that are in steep decline in non-managed areas of moorland. A necessary part of the management package is control of those predators (vermin) that can legally be killed (foxes, corvids and small mustelids). Such species are widely represented by large populations and the local deaths of those which might impact adversely on grouse are of no conservation consequence.

 

The red grouse is endemic to the UK and it depends for its survival on heather moorland. The productivity of such moorland varies and hens on wet, blanket bog moors tend to lay larger clutches than those on the higher, drier moors to the east. There are somewhat over 200 driving moors within the UK, most of which lie in the north of England. While Scotland has a greater area of moorland, most has less potential productivity and, in consequence, can justify less gamekeeper effort. While grouse can be shot in these areas, they are less commonly driven and keepers often devote as much time to deer as to grouse management. The average top quality driven grouse moor is around 2000 ha in area. It is worth noting that well less than half of the moorland area that could be made driveable is, in fact, used for driving. The management required is expensive to implement and is usually only undertaken by people rich enough to put more into the enterprise than they can realistically expect to take out.

 

In spring, birds form territorial pairs in territories of roughly 1ha. In theory, a productive moor should thus hold 2000 pairs at the start of the breeding season. In practice, not all habitat is suitable and the actual numbers will be less (say, 1500 pairs). There is no point in trying to hold more birds than can find suitable territories. It is not unreasonable to expect a good breeding season to produce a quadrupling of total grouse numbers by the start of the shooting season. Theoretically, therefore, one might plan to shoot shoot three quarters of one's stock (4500 brace). However, this would be excessive because it doesn't allow for inevitable post shooting losses. The total bag for the season is planned in advance, such that numbers of days and/or size of bags/day are designed to leave adequate breeders for the following season. After an extreme adverse weather event or severe disease outbreak, shooting may be suspended altogether for one or even two years to allow rebuilding of stock, thus depriving the moor proprietor of any income.

 

Grouse productivity is determined by suitability of habitat, levels of predation and disease and by weather. Game keepers can influence the first three to the advantage of grouse, but can only use prayer to prevent adverse weather.

 

Habitat improvement:

1) Heather replacement of relatively unproductive black grass. It is generally not appreciated that grouse moor proprietors typically

have little control of sheep numbers and grazing patterns. Commoners and crofters with grazing rights survive on the economic edge and are reliant on government subsidies. In the past, these were based on headage payments such that total sheep numbers became more important than productivity as expressed by lambing percentage. This encouraged overgrazing and, in winter, this can destroy heather and lead to its replacement with blackgrass. Fortunately, the nature of the subsidy system has been changed such that it no longer encourages habitat degradation and efforts to reverse the damage have increased.

2) Bracken eradication. Bracken is neither useful for livestock or grouse. In addition the thick mat of dead vegetation beneath a bracken stand enhances tick survival.

3) Grip-blocking. It used to be believed that drainage of blanket bog was beneficial to sheep and, to an extent, to grouse. Research has more recently demonstrated that enhanced run-off leads to peat erosion and sedimentation of draining rivers to the detriment of salmonids. The erosion also leads to deepening of the grips into which grouse chicks can fall without hope of escape. Wetter conditions also encourage cotton grass establishment. Cotton grass plays an important role in increasing clutch size.

4) Encouragement of sphagnum moss now that it is recognised as being important for carbon sequestration. Furthermore, grouse benefit from boggy patches because chicks in early life need high protein in their diets, which can be provided by the increased density of invertebrates in the of boggy areas.

 

B) Predator control:

1) As mentioned previously, the killing of "vermin" is of paramount importance in any attempt to produce a shootable surplus of grouse sufficient to allow driving. Without the income from shooters, good management wouldn't be affordable.

2) Illegal control of protected predators, almost exclusively raptors (eagles, harriers and peregrines). That a certain amount takes place is undeniable and understandable. However, the extent to which it takes place is impossible to assess. Its extent is almost inevitably exaggerated by antis and downplayed by the pro-side. I am aware,for example, that an RSPB official planted false evidence against a gamekeeper (frozen carcass in wrong stage of moult for the time that it was meant to have been found). I am also aware of undeclared killing by gamekeepers,with which I personally sympathise, but know many of you won't support. Perhaps, therefore, I could make a plea for compromise and accommodation, which, in my view, is perfectly possible. The raptors mentioned are all generalist predators that don't necessarily reduce in number when grouse numbers decline. When grouse numbers are reduced through bad weather or disease, circumstances arise which can create what is known as a "predator trap". This describes a situation in which low grouse numbers can never be recovered from. When grouse numbers are high, a limited number of raptors can be accommodated. Golden eagles, as far as I'm aware, have been very rare in England for well over a century, while white tailed eagles were not present in the UK for 150 years until they were re-introduced to north west Scotland, an area with very few grouse and no grouse shooting interests. Attempts are now being made to transfer others to the east where it plausible to believe that they could have devastating effects on grouse stocks. A pair of the smaller golden eagles is capable of of killing some 300 grouse a year in the absence of good sources of carrion (it should be noted that it is illegal for landowners and farmers to leave carrion lying about on their land). As some of the grouse killed will be potential breeding stock, one can assess the cost of a pair of golden eagles to the landowner to be in the region of the cost of employing one game keeper. In parts of Scotland, particularly those with marginal stocks of grouse, grouse moor management will become unaffordable and stocks of ground nesting species and hares will plunge in the absence of vermin control. It is ironic that hen harriers are, themselves, ground nesting, but they only really breed well on moors that are managed for grouse. However, they can themselves cause up to 20-30% of overwinter mortality in adult grouse as well as predating heavily on chicks. When their numbers rise to a level that makes sustainable grouse shooting impossible, keepers lose their jobs and foxes move back on to moorland and wipe out the harriers (see research conducted at Langholm). There are ways of addressing some of these conflicts, such as by diversionary feeding or translocation of raptors to new locations if their numbers become concentrated in a few. These suggestions involve cost and have been resisted by organisations such as the RSPB which seems willing to pour considerable funds into policing, but not to spend any members' money in managing moors for raptors rather than grouse (there is plenty of moorland for this to happen).

 

C) Significant diseases and their control.

1) Trichostrongylosis and its control. Caused by a nemotode parasite, spread by direct cycle, that accumulates in the caeca of grouse, reducing their laying potential or killing them. Other galliform birds tend to develop fairly rapid and robust immunity and don't suffer in the same way. This might suggest that this parasite has only found its way into grouse fairly recently in evolutionary terms. Grouse can be treated by individually dosing them by crop tube after the shooting season, having been dazzled and caught at night. Although this is a tedious and somewhat hazardous endeavour, it was nevertheless put into practice on many moors, giving an indication of both the damage that the disease can cause and the value of the individual grouse. Such dosing kills all worms present at the time it is carried out, but has no effects on stopping new worms from being picked up. Direct dosing has almost entirely been replaced with medicated quartz grit. Grit is typically placed in boxes in a grid pattern across the moor, ideally allowing one box/territory. It can be used as soon as the shooting season is over and must be removed 30 days before the start of the next. This ensures that no benzimidazole enters the human food chain. Environmental contamination will be confined to killing a few free living nematodes in the immediate vicinity of grouse faeces and gritting boxes. It should be noted that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate has licensed the drug for this use and, before doing so, environmental risks are assessed. Fairly recent improvements to drug concentrations on grit and coatings to weatherproof the product have dramatically improved grouse productivity and largely eliminated or dampened the population quasi-cycles that existed when the disease was rife.

2) Louping Ill and its control. An unusual virus disease in that several different host species can become infected (most viruses are fairly host specific). The infection is spread between hosts by ticks. If young grouse are infected, there will be a 75-80% mortality rate and survivors will be immune to re-infection. However, they won't pass on any useful passive immunity to their progeny. The principal source of virus is normally sheep. Sheep don't die of infection, but returning future breeders, having been reared on the low ground are susceptible and may abort. There is a vaccine available, but most graziers either can't afford or can't be bothered to use it (its cost benefit analysis isn't that obvious). On occasions, grouse proprietors buy vaccine on the graziers' behalf and, in addition, often supervise its administration to the sheep. Tick reduction is another approach to louping ill control. Unfortunately, the more effective long lasting dips, withdrawn for reasons of potential toxicity, have been replaced with those that are far shorter acting. Thus, the not inconsiderable effort of gathering moorland sheep to dip them has largely stopped. Some proprietors have acquired their own flocks and use them as so-called "tick mops". The sheep are rotated round the moor, picking up ticks as they go, and are repeatedly dipped. This requires far greater labour input than that required for a typical flock, hefted to a part of the hill, and largely allowed to get on with it without much human intervention. The third species that can become viraemic and multiply virus around tick bites is the mountain hare. This species is thus able to transmit infection (via ticks) to both grouse and sheep. Louping Ill virus is present only in the minority of driving moors. However, if one does have a moor which one is trying make productive for grouse and that moor has sheep, a high hare density and the the presence of virus, one has a severe problem of disease control. A few such moor owners have sought to eliminate (in practice, to greatly reduce the density) of their hares. This is a temporary cull which will stop, either when the virus is eliminated or when attempts to eliminate it and re-establish a sustainably harvestable stock of grouse have failed. I would like to emphasise that the mass killing of hares is undertaken as part of a disease eradication programme and not for any sporting reason.

 

I think I've banged on enough about process. I will conclude by suggesting that species protection is often inimical to good conservation and that obsessing over charismatic raptors at the expense of smaller species is unfortunate. I would further suggest that you can't have your cake and eat it off a single plate. However, if I were to be given the typical annual budget that grouse proprietors spend on their management, I could almost guarantee that I could generate enough raptors to keep bird watchers happy without ruining grouse interests.

 

I have not made point by point rebuttals to comments made in the lead post of this debate. I am sure the author will withdraw some of the criticisms, having gained a better understanding of the subject after he has studied the material to which I made reference. I am sure others will remain and I will be happy to address them. In passing, I should note that fence collisions are not the responsibility of grouse proprietors, but of foresters. I have not mentioned lead, but I have some evidence from my own research that suggests that it isn't of overwhelming importance in conservation terms, but may be worth discussing anyway.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you very much @@douglaswise for responding, especially as you are preparing for a trip. I do hope you and your party have a splendid time!

Edited by Towlersonsafari

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Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury (to continue my theme) I would like to thank my learned friend for his comments. However I submit that nothing on those per force hurried remarks provides evidence, compelling or otherwise, that disproves the allegations that I have made, supported by independent evidence.

Indeed there have been important admissions.

Illegal persecution of raptors continues.It is not acceptable to illegally kill elephants, why should it be acceptable in Birds of Prey? Hen Harriers do not chose to breed on grouse moors.They choose to breed on heather moorland.To argue that without controlling their numbers, foxes will just kill them anyway is not a logical viepoint. Foxes, as part of their natural ecology, will take ground nesting birds eggs and young.That is part of the natural ecosystem. To argue that Golden Eagles have not been seen regularly in Northern England for a hundred years, merely makes my point.They have not been seen because of persecution by sporting estates and because of egg collectors.

And the extent of illegal killing should not be underestimated.

An award-winning scientific study (Smart et al. 2010) highlighted the low probability of detection of illegal raptor killing by demonstrating the number of illegally-killed red kites in a sub-population in northern Scotland. Using population modelling techniques the authors calculated that a total of 166 red kites had been illegally poisoned between 1999 and 2006, but only 41 poisoned carcasses were actually found. Other peer reviewed scientific studies (based on data collected by the award-winning monitoring efforts of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, (SNH 2009)) have also helped to inform an estimate of the extent of raptor persecution on Scottish grouse moors by examining the severe effect of sustained persecution on the population dynamics of several raptor species. These include the golden eagle (Watson & Whitfield 2002; Whitfield et al. 2004a; 2004b; 2007; 2008; Watson 2010; Watson 2013b); goshawk (Petty & Anderson 1996; Marquiss et al. 2003; Kenward 2006); hen harrier (Etheridge et al. 1997; Green & Etheridge 1999; Summers et al. 2003; Sim et al. 2007; Anderson et al. 2009; Fielding et al. 2011; Hayhow et al. 2013); peregrine (Hardey et al. 2003); and red kite (Carter et al. 2003). Collectively, these studies render the dispute about the exact number of raptor persecution incidents inconsequential because clearly, raptor persecution on grouse moors in Scotland is sufficiently widespread and prevalent to be causing population-scale impacts.

There has also been an admission that medicine has been left in the environment.As far as I know there has been no study into the effects of Flubendazole in invertebrates or in the food chain.

Fences are indeed mostly associated with forestry, but due to, in Scotland especially, increased intensification, electric fences and large scale environmental damage on grouse moors is being seen.

As the Cairngorms National Park Authority noted in 2014

, “Whilst fencing can be beneficial in assisting habitat enhancement and can be a short term measure, there are also concerns about cumulative impacts on habitat, deer welfare, access and sensitive upland landscapes. There is a significant risk that deer fenced out on some moors only exacerbates habitat management problems elsewhere. Inappropriately designed and located fencing to manage livestock and deer, just as fencing for other objectives, can impact negatively on the landscape and ability for people to access upland areas.”

As for the large scale killing of Mountain Hares on some estates in Scotland which began in the 1980's this continues despite no evidence that it increases the density of grouse.

@@douglaswise describes an environment where a traditional country sport struggles to survive and has to take measures to ensure that survival.That may be true in his area, but here is a list of some prominent grouse moors in Scotland, and their ownership;

Buccleuch Estate- Buccleuch Estates Ltd.,

Corrybrough Estate -Tinsley (Branston) Farms Ltd., Lincoln

Dorback Estate- Salingore Reals Estate Ltd.,

Farr & Glen Kyllachy -Newbie Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Ltd.,

Glendye Estate -Leased to Glen Dye Grouse Moor Syndicate

Glenfiddich & Cabrach- Golden Lane Securities Ltd., London

Glenlochy Estate- Umena Management Ltd., St Vincent, The Grenadines

Glenogil Estate- Baron Ferdinand von Baumbach, Munich, Germany

Invercauld Estate -Farquharson Trust leased shooting tenants

Millden Estate- Millden Sporting LLP, Glasgow

Moy Estate -John MacKintosh, Tomatin

North Glenbuchat- North Glen Estate Limited, Turks & Caicos Islands

Raeshaw Estate -Raeshaw Holdings Ltd, Jersey

Roxburgh Estate- Roxburghe Trusts, Edinburgh, Guernsey & Bermuda

 

I would say that this is good evidence of the increasing money to be made from this sport, and the corresponding increasing industrial nature of it. I invite a finding that Grouse Moors can no longer be allowed to be self-regulated, and may not have a place in a reasonable society at all

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I will just argue one point in @@Towlersonsafari original post but there are many more to argue against, and some to agree on to some extent.

The point is about the illegal killings of birds of pray. First I condemn this acts, but that is not the point.

The point is, as a former investigator and police I have been in many courts, and a prosecuter that argued that a group should be sentenced for criminal activities done by a unknown small percentage that may or may not be from a certain group would have stayed prosecuter for that trial only!!! This is more the way of people that is ready to brake the law for their beliefs.

I could argue a lot more about the text, but I will stick to this one first and if anyone want to discus or argue with me he/she has to discus that point first and not start anything like:
-BUT is it ok to hunt birds for sport.

Only this point about making decisions on guesses and punish a hole group for what some few criminal individuals is doing nothing else.


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Hello @@Tomas please note I do not comment on the ethics of shooting although of course I am personally not keen.And one cannot say all grouse shooting estates are tarred with the same brush but sadly the evidence is that many are and the increasingly industrial nature of the estates are leading to the problems I highlight.Look at the evidence.Look at the reported illegal killing of raptors. Look at where it is happening.

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Hello @@Tomas please note I do not comment on the ethics of shooting although of course I am personally not keen.And one cannot say all grouse shooting estates are tarred with the same brush but sadly the evidence is that many are and the increasingly industrial nature of the estates are leading to the problems I highlight.Look at the evidence.Look at the reported illegal killing of raptors. Look at where it is happening.

It is not evidence enough you have chosen to write your argument like it was argumentet in court and therefore it should hold at least a little of the same quality when it comes to the evidence in this case it soes not. But my point is that you can not point towards a hole group and accuse them for crimes of a few unknown individuals! Do you think that that is an approach that is sound?

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Posted (edited)

@@Towlersonsafari and @@Tomas

While I have no problem with the idea of a few chaps trudging across the moors with shot guns and bagging a few grouse along the way (within the law of course), I just don't think that one can equate driven grouse shooting with hunting, since (as far as I understand it) very little hunting takes place. Shooting yes, hunting not so much.

In that sense I really can't see that much ethical difference between canned "hunting" and shooting grouse in this fashion (in which it seems the quantity of grouse shot - rather than the hunting experience - seems to be the paramount attraction).

 

If quantity of targets shot is the main attraction, there is such a thing as clay pigeon shooting for that.

 

But, its not my scene so I confess my knowledge is limited to what I've seen in a few movies featuring the landed gentry and their expensive Purdy shot guns...

Edited by ZaminOz

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Again if any want to engage me in further discussion about the subject they first have to discuss the fact that a hole group or a hole hunting method is bashed because of what some unidentified criminals are doing. That is in my view not ok and no argument against hunting at all or at least a very poor argument.

Then we can taker apart one argument after an other to see if they hold true. And after that we can talk feelings and private opinions because that is an other thing and everyone is entitled to have his own opinion and to feel something about what ever, that can never be wrong.

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hello @@ZaminOz you may think that I could not possibly comment ! Especially as my one attempt at clay pigeon shooting ended predictably in abject failure! And @@Tomas, you are right in that one cannot use a few examples of a class of person as evidence that the whole group of persons is guilty of the same behavior-if only it was a few "rogue" estates illegally killing birds of prey, for example. i think thati have provided good evidence-in terms of the distribution of Hen Harriers in England-or the lack of them, and in terms of the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) atlas of bird distribution which I have not quoted but can easily be accessed online, to provide evidence that the practice of grouse shooting estates killing birds of prey is so widespread that it needs action. (To stick with the bird of prey theme)

Here is some more evidence-

The Following Date is from the 2008 Golden Eagle conservation Framework-a government funded comprehensive scientific review of golden Eagle ecology and conservation in Scotland. It shows what percentage of golden Eagle territories are occupied by region.

In the territories below no or very little grouse shooting takes place

Western Isles-91%

Western Highlands-89.5%

Argyll West & Islands-81.5%

And below are the areas where Grouse shooting does take place-

Central highlands-48%

Cairngorms massif-42.4%

North East Glens-17.6% !!!

Now factor into that the the Central areas and Eastern areas should be better for Golden Eagles as there is more prey, less rain in winter so more flying days, and less reliance on carrion, and you may be convinced that it is the grouse shooting industry as a whole that is illegally killing Golden Eagles.

i did chose to frame the debate in a quasi legal framework, as I am trying to make a case that regulation at least is needed.( and I thought it would be fun) I think that I have provided good evidence but only the reader can decide if they agree-have i proven the case "beyond reasonable doubt"? -which is the criminal test in the UK, or "On the balance of probability"?- or have i failed to convince you?

Incidentally-do you, @@Tomas, use lead shot?

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@@Towlersonsafari I think that killing birds of prey is done by criminals and they should be prosecuted not punish a hole group and so that argument against grouse hunting does not apply!!

When it comes to shooting wild birds a few times a year and shot a lot I do not see any wrong in that me myself prefer to hunt more often and shoot a couple of bird at the time over my setter but that is just my opinion and what I like.

Should driven hunting where they shoot a lot of birds a few times a year be baned? No I do not think so but like everything else nothing is black and white. Some of this hunt is done on raised birds that have been free just some days and are planted by the PH so the clients can shoot a lot of birds. I do not think this is hunting and a bad practice.

It is not evil it is not bad and it helps to keep the countryside alive.

If someone do not like hunting that is ok but to "hunt" the hunters in a kind of witch hunt is not ok.

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@@Towlersonsafari:

 

Thank you for your courteous response in #12. I will revert to your later comments in due course.

 

@Bugs:

 

You asked what the consequences would be of stopping shooting altogether in the UK. This is a huge question and I haven't the time to answer it detail. I'm not at all sure, in any event, that I have the necessary knowledge or expertise to do so. Below, I summarise some of my thoughts:

1) Loss of avian biodiversity, but increase in corvids. Song birds and upland waders would decline.

2) Increase of mammalian predators (foxes), decrease in hares and hedgehogs.

3) Possible small increase in some raptors (eagles), no change in others (harriers) and decline in yet others (merlin).

4) Lower uptake of government-subsidised agri-environmental schemes by landowners.

5) Loss of rural jobs. Increased incursion of NIMBYs into countryside, bringing their typically suburban attitudes with them.

6) Massive resentment and demoralisation through what would be deemed unjust deprivation of a favoured pastime by an ignorant urban-based majority, already high because of legislation that interfered with hound sports.

 

Actually, driven shooting isn't that common in most of Western Europe and it would be instructive to make comparisons with the UK situation. I would suggest that the UK would stand up very favourably by most conservation criteria.

 

@ZaminOz:

 

I have the mental image of you living up to the stereotype of your country. To whit: Bloody chinless Poms with their fancy twice-barrelled shoot guns (actually the last derogatory phrase came from Texan friends, but I liked it so couldn't help stealing it). I can picture you and your mates striding over a moor with a good supply of tinnies (I think) and wearing slouch hats with corks dangling from their brims. You suggest that driven grouse shooting sounds more to you like shooting rather than hunting. I will, no doubt, be conforming to my own national stereotype by pointing out to you that the Brits don't hunt with guns. They, like you, describe the use of shotguns for shooting birds as shooting. Hunting involves the use of hounds for the pursuit of foxes and deer from horses and of hares on foot (beagling). If it isn't too much for an Australian to take in all at once, I'd add that, if I'm using a rifle to kill deer, I'm actually stalking and not shooting.

 

Driven grouse shooting is most certainly not all about numbers, but you'd have to watch or participate to understand what it is that provides pleasure to participants. A lot has to do with the relative isolation and landscape beauty that many safaritalkers find so compelling. This is quite apart from the fact that the birds are wild and extremely challenging to hit. Bear in mind that our population density is such that we only have about 1.5 acres each. I have been attempting to focus on conservation value rather than morals/ethics.

 

I hope you will understand that my comments are tongue-in-cheek and I do understand that you qualified your own comments.

 

@Tomas:

 

I accept that killing of protected raptors is illegal. However, there is provision within the law to obtain licenses on a case by case basis, which would allow killing on specific sites. The trouble is that, however strong one's conservation argument, these licenses are, in practice, never issued. I will explain my thinking in my next post to @@Towlersonsafari.

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Hello @@douglaswise I cannot agree with your conclusions 1-4. Also I have made no comment on the ethics of shooting in my arguments nor do I accept any Town v country arguments.For what is worth my father's family are farmers. I would like to try a regulation system as there are too many "bad estates" out there.There are some examples of good practice of course but I do think the time has come.l would add that my research is mostly about Scotland. I look forward to reading your views especially about the medication and its use in the environment

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@@douglaswise Do your comments about @@ZaminOz's nationality really add anything to the discussion? If made in jest, realise that sometimes humour doesn't neccesarily translate well.

 

Anyone who might want to contribute to the discussion may well be put off and if anyone looking in on Safaritalk, thinking of joining, reads what you've written, may well be put off from doing so.

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@@Game Warden:

 

If, in your judgement, my contributions to Safaritalk are likely to repel new readers, feel free to expel me. I have already been admonished for displaying emotion in reacting to @@Towlersonsafari's malevolent and misleading attack on a whole community which includes many of my friends and colleagues. Further, I was surprised that you considered the subject relevant to Safaritalk, allowing @@Towlersonsafari an initial free hit on a subject about which he knows little. Sauce for the goose is clearly not sauce for the gander. In my view, subjects for your Debates section should be selected by you and you should invite people with some expertise to start them off with lead posts. @@Towlersonsafari would, in my view, possibly qualify for this role had the debate been about the illegal killing of raptors. Indeed, he could have focussed on the post you initiated on the illegal killing of a red kite in Yorkshire.

 

Now you are trying to intervene, like a cricket umpire, in the time honoured activity of sledging between the British and Australians. I was admittedly indulging myself in a single paragraph of dubious relevance. You ask if my comments to @@ZaminOz were made in jest. Come on! Even if my, possibly feeble attempt at humour was lost on you, what do you think my "tongue in cheek" comment was all about? How much more politically correct and regulation-bound do you want this site to get?

 

Debates ought to be evidence-based. Too often, evidence is ignored.Some correspondents repeatedly parrot their own opinions and neither modify nor justify them in the light of evolving evidence and counter-argument.

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Dear @@douglaswise, let me assure you that if I wanted to be malevolent you and anyone reading my posts would certainly know about it. I have referred to peer reviewed evidence. you may not like it, but I respectfully suggest you may convince more people of your cause if you deal with the evidence, and not attack the messenger.

To remind you the points to be discussed ( or not as you wish) are;

illegal killing of birds of prey

environmental damage-fences and roads/tracks not subject to proper scrutiny

Killing of mountain hares at some estates where there is no evidence it affects grouse numbers and where the Cairngorm authorities and SNH have asked for voluntary restraint

The use of medication and if there is a health hazard

increasing industrialization turning the sport from a country pursuit to a business where profits can be made increasing the problems above

agricultural subsidies being used for the sport.

You can of course ignore the points I raise, that is your perfect right. but you have in the past expressed a wish for emotion free evidence based discussions.You may wish to practice what you preach

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