The dark side of the driven grouse shoot

As ‘Saturday Kitchen’ romaticises grouse hunt, UK campaigners highlight the causalities in this “field sport”.

Hen Harrier chicks dead in nest

A brood of dead hen harrier chicks all found mutilated in a nest

This Saturday, on the highly popular cookery show Saturday Kitchen, viewers were shown the classic footage of the Two Fat Ladies looking for grouse on the Scottish moors. They were seen fondly reminiscing about a trip abroad shooting “dessert partridge” before heading out in a large group, behind the head gamekeeper, to stalk the grouse. It was all about the fun of the shoot; birds dropping from the sky, the women marvelling at the smell from the gun and plump grouse and partridge packed up in their wicker basket to be cooked in some country house kitchen.

The whole thing was set up as a classic piece from the archive to be admired and enjoyed through rose-tinted spectacles, something that might then inspire the next generation of food lovers and hunters to get some grouse of their own. “What wonderful stuff,” remarked guest host Valentine Warner. Well no, not really. Not when grouse shoots mean the loss of animals such as this red kite, hen harriers and peregrines.
hen harrier
Poisoned Red Kite found on grouse moor November 2014
After the segment aired, wildlife campaigners expressed their anger that such footage could still be shown and appreciated when there is such a big problem with driven grouse shoots and such strong campaigning against the practice. The segment offers a simplified view of the hunt; you shoot a grouse, send the dog to find it and get a bird to eat. What the public doesn’t get to see is the habitat management that goes into driven grouse shoots and the impact these measures are having on wild creatures like the harriers, kites, small birds and even small mammals.
Animals that interfere with the moors and pose a threat to grouse numbers are disposed of through traps, snares and poisonings. Stoats, rabbits, weasels and hares can all fall victim to traps – as can the odd domestic pet that wanders off the beaten track – and birds of prey are shot and poisoned, like the red kite above. As this wonderful poster from The League Against Cruel Sports shows, you get more than you asked for with a grouse:
 The species that has been receiving the most attention with online campaigning and petitioning is the hen harrier – a stunning raptor that should thrive on the moorlands of the UK but is in deep trouble due to this sort of persecution – but we need to protect these moorlands for every animal that should be a part of this natural landscape. A moorland with nothing but grouse is not a healthy habitat. A petition to ban driven grouse shooting will always struggle when there is such a strong community in favour of game hunting and the income that it brings but these gamekeepers cannot be allowed to slaughter our wildlife and TV segments romanticising the hunt do not help the cause one bit.
If you agree that this has to stop and you don’t want to see any more pictures of shot, poisoned and maimed creatures on our moorlands, please sign and share the petition.

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