It’s not actually the killing of red grouse that is the problem – but the impact it has on one of their predators

Following on from Mark Avery’s article about the not too good benifits of grouse shooting published in the independent on Monday, writing in yesterday’s Independent Michael McCarthy claims campaigners are taking aim at grouse shooting, and they’re spot on.  Mark Avery’s new book the Inglorious (Bloomsbury, £16.99),  is an attack on the grouse shooting industry, but not for the usual reasons: Dr Avery is not attacking it for the cruelty of the killing, or suggesting that grouse as a species are threatened; he is not even attacking shooting as a sport. He is alleging something specific: that the particular way in which grouse are currently pursued – driven grouse shooting, in which the birds are flushed by beaters towards the waiting guns – simply cannot be done without breaking the law, and so should be banned.

hen harrier-1

The Hen Harrier  is slaughtered on moorland to produce inflated numbers of Red Grouse, which are then driven towards the waiting guns where they are shot for sport.

For driven grouse shooting requires a big crop of birds every season, and a grouse moor is essentially a farm in which they are bred in much larger numbers than they would occur in nature, with gamekeepers ruthlessly killing all their possible predators, such as stoats, weasels, foxes, crows and magpies. This is legal. But there is one major predator of red grouse whose killing is a crime: the hen harrier, one of our loveliest and most charismatic birds of prey, which has been fully protected by law since 1954.


The Red Grouse is an iconic moorland bird, however their management and protection by gamekeepers results in the illegal destruction of Hen Harriers,Peregrines, Goshawk and Short-eared Owl. We must also now add the Eagle Owl to the killing list. 

The conclusion of his riveting book claims McCarthy is simple: driven grouse shooting requires the suppression of hen harriers, which is a crime, and so should itself be outlawed. The logic is impeccable

Read the full Independent article here.


Please sign Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting today.






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