Chris Packham & Kerry McCarthy MP | Should the Government ban driven Grouse shooting?

As many readers of this website will know (hopefully because many of us signed it!) Wild Justice (Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery) launched a petition to ban Driven Grouse Shooting last year. The petition received over 100,000 signatures, triggering a debate in Parliament, of which the highest concentration was from areas blighted by the shooting industry including the Calder Valley, Sheffield Hallam, the High Peak (with its notorious raptor persecution hotspots), and the Derbyshire Dales constituencies. The petition was closed early on 6th of November 2019 when the last General Election was called, meaning the scheduled debate could not go ahead.

Image of a smoking shotgun

To catch up on the progress of this work Kerry McCarthy MP (a veteran animal welfare campaigner and the first vegan MP, and then a member of the Petitions Committee), spoke with Chris this week to discuss a number of the more controversial issues involved in grouse shooting. The key points they covered in that call have now been summarised on the House of Commons website. There is also a video of the call between the both of them.

A link to the full (plain text) transcript is also provided (it’s available here). There are a good number of typically memorable quotes from Chris including:

  • “…the only way to satisfy continual good shooting for those who wish to practise it is to have very large numbers of grouse to the detriment of pretty much everything else…”
  • “…I draw your attention to a report that’s been published just recently by the RSPB saying that their investigations unit has been overrun with reports of birds of prey being killed illegally in the recent weeks of the lockdown…the police are seeing a significant number of ongoing investigations on land managed for grouse shooting and the birds concerned are hen harriers, peregrines, buzzards, red kites, goshawk and even a barn owl…”
  • “…whilst we’ve been talking about the illegal persecution of birds of prey, the legal persecution of lots of other animals also takes place on grouse moors…”
  • “…So even if we brood meddle Hen Harriers and we remove them from grouse moors in the north of England and we release them in areas which are allegedly safe in the south of England…they fly around and they gravitate back to those grouse moors and they endure the same level of persecution as the birds that were breeding next door…”
  • “…there is also, of course, the tons and tons of lead shot that rained over these moors for years, which are now in the soil being leached out into that groundwater...”
  • [On the number of grouse shot by the driven grouse industry} “…It’s extraordinary that an industry that brags about its ability as a conservation agency, as it were, doesn’t have that sort of figure…”
  • “…Grouse shooting is not compatible with contemporary conservation. It’s incapable of self-regulation when it comes to burning, when it comes to the illegal persecution of birds of prey. So I say ban it and ban it now….”

Chris Packham always chooses his words carefully. He is not given to calling for bans lightly, and there is absolutely nothing in the above quotes that we would disagree with. As we’ve said (and our guests have said in podcasts) many, many times on this site the grouse industry is underpinned by wildlife crime, is environmentally-destructive, and is a hobby where a few individuals enjoy a day out using as many birds as living targets as possible with barely a thought for the sentient animals they gun down.

It’s a horrible, archaic, selfish ‘sport’ and it needs to be banned now.