Record-breaking grouse shooting season predicted for Scotland, but at what cost for raptors?

Sporting estates across Scotland have been reporting good grouse counts  this season. One of the best years for grouse shooting in living memory has been predicted by a leading sporting agency.

Sporting Lets said the mild spring and favourable summer conditions, combined with the driest September in Scotland since records began, had resulted in “fantastic shooting”. It also said most estates were reporting birds to be in good condition. The season will officially end on 10 December.

Sporting Lets has predicted a record overall count of grouse shot.

The agency said records were thought to have been broken right across Scotland, with one Morayshire moor starting the season with 220 brace on the first day of shooting on 12 August.

Robert Rattray, head of Sporting Lets, said: “The grouse have been particularly well grown this year, with record bags being recorded right across the country due to the fantastic shooting available right from start of the season, and continuing through October which has benefited from the dry and mild weather.

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“Perthshire has really done particularly well, with grouse numbers well up on those moors being actively managed.

“One mid-Perthshire estate had a best early season day of 277 brace in just four drives in a stiff wind. Generally, bags of 100-plus brace were not uncommon throughout the region’s moors.”

Mr Rattray said the Cairngorms and Aberdeenshire continued to improve with new records also being set on the Monadhliaths.

He added: “We have reports that the Lammermuirs have an estate with 1,500 brace over the first four days of the season.”

Conservationists used the start of the grouse shooting season in August to highlight the illegal persecution of birds of prey.

They have claimed sporting estates and politicians could do more to end the practice.

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