Shooting’s proud heritage – An interesting perspective by a grouse shooter.

Red Grouse-1

Writing in the Yorkshire Post Adrian Thornton Berry recalls how it was when he was a schoolboy living close to a grouse moor and acting as a beater driving the grouse towards the butts. Now many years later and a member of a grouse shoot himself, Mr.Thornton Berry argues there is certainly a serious problem in the grouse shooting industry. Using an expression that seems appropriate in the circumstances he goes on to say, some of the big commercial grouse moors which charge parties thousand pounds a time are shooting themselves in the foot by adopting a Victorian-era mentality towards the control of birds of prey. The shooting of hen harriers on grouse moors continues in some areas, and it has managed to bring the entire sport into disrepute.

Watch this video to understand why Adrian Berry Thornton is so concerned.

Although a junior member of the RSPB at the time, not once did I stop to consider that grouse shooting might be incompatible with my conservation beliefs. Now, though, it seems I am supposed to make a choice, and revile the sport as abominable and archaic.

The principal cheerleader against grouse shooting is Mark Avery, a former conservation director of the RSPB, who has written a book with the unequivocal title Inglorious in which he argues that driven grouse shooting should be banned.

In his preface, Avery admits this is a big ask yet goes on: “It’s demise is inevitable, because it is a practice pursued by the few to the detriment of the many. I am sure that driven grouse shooting will be consigned to history within the next few years.”

I hope this persecution stops, not only to save one of our most beautiful raptors from being wiped out in England, but also to allow the counter argument for grouse shooting to be heard. One is that control of vermin like crows and stoats to protect red grouse nests also benefits shorebirds like golden plover, lapwings and curlews which breed on the moors. Without such controls, our uplands would be poorer places in spring and summer.

Read the full account of this story HERE.

You can sign the petition to Ban Driver Grouse Shooting HERE

1 comment to Shooting’s proud heritage – An interesting perspective by a grouse shooter.

  • Ian Whittaker

    The argument that our uplands would be “poorer places in spring and summer” without predator control is disingenuous and not backed up by properly scoped research. It takes little research to prove that predator control in the short term will lead to increased numbers of grouse, waders and other ground-nesting birds (but strangely not the hen harrier) in our uplands. It has already been said that this ignores the mountains of other wildlife that has to die but there is also a failure to define a “poorer place”.

    The predator control argument is based on a notion that predators are out of control and if left unchecked, would turn our countryside into a wildlife wasteland. Not only is this an ecologically unsound premise for a number of reasons – predator numbers would self regulate as food source declines and predators prey on predators to name but two but there is no solid research to back this up. If anything, good research that looks at predator/prey population dynamics on several scales (ie doesn’t just set out to prove that predators impact on prey at the local level), suggests that the management of land for shooting that results in unnaturally high numbers of game birds is part of the problem. High concentrations of prey support higher populations of predators, particularly the generalist predators, and unconstrained predator control is not effective in controlling predator numbers.

    It goes without saying that the illegal persecution of birds of prey must stop and the other environmental disbenefits of grouse moor management have to be addressed. But even then the driven grouse shooting model is not proving sustainable and far from providing an exemplar for conservation it needs to learn lessons from the RSPB and other similar organisations. Look after the habitat in a sustainable way, understand the ecology, cease the incessant drive for greater and greater numbers of game birds and turn to lethal (legal) predator control only as a last resort. In other words stop driven grouse shooting for it can never meet these standards of conservation.

    Editor’s Comment. Thank you Ian.