Calls from across Britain are mounting for a ban of Driven Grouse Shooting

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An animal welfare charity is calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting ahead of the opening of the season across England and Scotland’s sporting estates next week on the ‘Glorious 12th’. OneKind, a UK-wide organisation based in Edinburgh, argues that shooting grouse for sport is dependent on intensive habitat management. The charity also claims this is damaging to protected wildlife sites and increases water pollution, flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions.

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The body also underlined the link to the illegal persecution of raptors such as the hen harrier, peregrine falcon now in serious decline on grouse moors. This has been linked to driven grouse shooting due to the perceived threat the harriers and the peregrine pose to red grouse through predation, according to the charity.

OneKind, formerly known as Advocates for Animals, said: “The shooting industry is dependent on maintaining large stocks of grouse which are shot for vast sums of money throughout the season. “Legal, although often cruel, methods of control are available to gamekeepers for other species which predate on grouse but this is not the case with birds of prey. Illegal persecution of raptors is blighting the industry with significant levels taking place around driven grouse moors.”

Events are being held around the country coinciding with start of the grouse shooting season, to raise awareness of the decline in hen harrier numbers.

OneKind spokeswoman Louise Robertson said: “We hope the public will take on board the severity of the situation and question how ethical it is that as a nation we promote the grouse shooting industry and celebrate the start of the season with the Glorious – or Inglorious as it should be known – Twelfth. “

It follows calls for a ban on driven grouse shooting made by a former conservation director of the RSPB, Mark Avery, in his recently published book ‘Inglorious — Conflict in the Uplands’. The RSPB has remained officially neutral on the issue.

He has launched a petition calling for the Westminster government to ban the sport south of the Border, but sees the situation is better in Scotland, with some estates offering the likes of as game bird photography as an alternative.

But Ms Robertson said that as well as the obvious cruelty of an unregulated sport which allows novice and untrained sportsmen to shoot at living creatures, the hidden cruelties were numerous. These include predator control methods such as snaring.

“In the run-up to the shooting season, our countryside is literally littered with these silent killers waiting to choke, garrotte or kill many of the animals unfortunate enough to become trapped,” she said.

However a spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association responded robustly: “Many organisations will be jumping on the anti-grouse bandwagon ahead of August 12 and using this to push their own organisational agendas and gain media profile. “Lamentably, this is now indicative of the extreme end of countryside politics which has damaged trust and prevented positive joint initiatives being taken forward which would be to the benefit of Scotland’s land, conservation and the communities which depend on it for employment and wellbeing.

“There are working people and their families busting a gut just now to prepare for something which is a major source of household income and work as well as being part of the life and rhythm of the communities in which they live. While people are entitled to drive their own agendas, they should not forget real working people and families deserve respect.”

This article written by David Ross was first published by the HeraldScotland

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