Tag: grouse moors

Britain’s National Parks – protecting Red Grouse for the guns

We have consistently described our national parks – supposedly the most important and most precious of our landscapes – as ‘so-called national parks’. We have said that because our ‘so-called national parks’ are – to a large extent – in fact managed not to conserve the magnificence of the Cairngorms, the Peak District, or the North York Moors, but to conserve grouse shooting (see, for example, Shooting in national parks from Dec 2019) And grouse shooting, as we’ve also consistently said – and as Luke Steele laid out in an interview we posted yesterday – is underpinned by wildlife crime (the extent of raptor persecution in our so-called national parks is shameful). is a pollutant, and is damaging land that could be key to the UK’s attempts to bring down its carbon emissions. What we’ve not had access to are figures that state exactly how much of our so-called national parks is given over to slaughtering wildlife, is covered in traps and snares, and run solely for the benefit of a tiny minority of shooters and their lobbyists. Now, though, Rewildling Britain (the charity set up to “expand the scale, quality and connectivity of our native habitats”) has produced research that does just that.

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Interview | Luke Steele, Wild Moors

Charlie Moores talks with Luke Steele about grouse moors, upland rewilding, and the role peatlands can play in carbon storage. Luke is Executive Director of Wild Moors, the recently renamed organisation that has sprung up from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, a group founded in 2014 with the stated aim of ending grouse shooting on Yorkshire’s moors “to free the way for these spaces to be managed in a way where their full potential can be reached”.  Wild Moors very much continues that work, but has broadened its scope beyond Yorkshire to help create a new vision of uplands across the UK. In the lead up to the ‘Inglorious 12th’ – the start of a season where ‘sportsmen’ visit degraded moorlands to use Red Grouse as live targets – Luke and Charlie look at the failing grouse shooting industry, positive movement by Yorkshire Water on the management of its land, and a brighter future for our uplands and its wildlife – but they begin by discussing the rebranding of the group.

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Yorkshire Water bringing grouse shooting to an end

There are a number of ways to end the scandal and disgrace that is industrialised grouse shooting, from books like Dr Mark Avery’s ‘Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands’, Hen Harrier Day, blogs like Raptor Persecution UK that focus on wildlife crime, and targeting landowners that allow wealthy shooters to use birds as live targets on a day out in the uplands. The latter is the approach that Wild Moors (formerly known as Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors) has been taking – and it is beginning to pay off in spades! Luke Steele and the Wild Moors team (working with the League Against Cruel Sports) have been focussing in particular on Yorkshire Water, one of England’s largest landowners, who lease out upland moors to grouse shooting tenants. Over the last couple of years, Wild Moors have been asking why would a corporation that says it has the environment at the very heart of its concerns want to be associated with an industry that is underpinned by wildlife crime, regularly sets fire to threatened habitats causing degradation of carbon-storing peatlands, and causes flooding downstream.

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BrewDog | Gamekeepers no longer needed at Kinrara

Shooting’s lobbyists have turned their fire on BrewDog via an article in The Times. The craft beer company bought a climate-unfriendly grouse moor near Aviemore, Kinrara, earlier this year and instead of shooting wildlife is planning to grow a forest on it to offset the carbon produced at its brewery in Ellon. This means that BrewDog no longer needs the six gamekeepers that were employed to kill wildlife on the estate. No one should take any pleasure in stories of redundancy. Jobs across many sectors (especially post-lockdown) are hard to get hold of and even harder to keep. But things change. Can gamekeeping? The old-fashioned raptor-hating keeper needs to be pensioned off and disappear, but there are expert wildlife trackers and knowledgeable, potential wildlife guides in their number. They could surely be re-employed in eco-tourism or helping with rewilding initiatives. Working in hospitality may not be as adrenalised as putting holes in foxes, but there is no point whatsoever in demanding society stands still. Far better for all concerned to adapt and retrain instead surely?

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Great news – it’s becoming too risky to buy a grouse moor

As the evidence has mounted up, as the wildlife crime, the climate issues, the deliberate targeting of predators, the wanton slaughter of grouse, and the campaigning has become impossible to ignore, the tide has turned against grouse shooting. Governments are looking at licencing estates. Land owning utilities and local councils are banning burning and looking for more environmentally-friendly ways to use moorland. Rewilding grouse moors so that they do public good and function as intact ecosystems, working for the climate rather than against it, looks increasingly viable. The upshot is that potential grouse moor owners are becoming more reluctant to invest in grouse farming. It’s always been difficult to make a profit from killing Red Grouse, but now buying a grouse moor is becoming risky too. Would-be owners simply don’t know what new laws might be brought in before they’ve been able to take money out of the moor. It could become harder to sell your ‘look at me’ asset in the future as well. Grouse shooting is buckling under the pressure…

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Kudos to the Yorkshire Post

We’ve written a number of posts praising the straight-up reporting of raptor persecution in the Yorkshire Post (a daily broadsheet published in Leeds and covering the whole of what used to be Yorkshire as well as parts of north Derbyshire and Lincolnshire), most notably by Grace Newton (see for example – North Yorkshire ‘black hole for raptors’ says Yorkshire Post and North Yorkshire | Peregrine falcons found poisoned in quarry). For a regional newspaper that is sold in an area dominated by shooting estates that takes courage. Now in another notable and entirely laudable move, the Yorkshire Post has published a ridiculous piece of propaganda by shooting lobbyists BASC (we’re guessing it would have been difficult to refuse) but then slapped a notice on it making clear that BASC paid for the advertorial (defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a “a newspaper or magazine advertisement giving information about a product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article”) and that it does not reflect the views of the newspaper.

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(To the surprise of no-one) banned poison found on Leadhills Estate

To the surprise of almost no-one a large quantity of banned poison has been found on the Leadhills Estate, a South Lanarkshire shooting estate notorious for wildlife crime (though no doubt somewhere in the offices of the SGA they’ll be considering saying it was a plant). The poison was discovered by a League Against Cruel Sports investigator carrying out general field research in July last year on ‘Deadhills’ as it’s been dubbed (and anyone who’s visited this depressingly silent slab of grouse moor and wondered where the hell all the wildlife was, will understand why). Police Scotland has confirmed the poison was – again to the surprise of no-one – the ‘professional’s’ weapon of choice against birds of prey, a banned substance hazardous to humans and wildlife alike which is illegal to keep or use in the UK: Carbofuran. As we and countless others have pointed out, just a few grains of carbofuran sprinkled on to a rabbit corpse makes for an illegal but cheap and highly toxic bait.

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Mail Online lobbying (badly) for grouse moors

There is nothing wrong with lobbying (it’s what we do after all), but we do think that lobbyists – and the people who ‘report’ their words – ought at least to feel obliged to be as accurate as they can (it’s what we do after all). So, here’s a little Fact Check-style breakdown for the journos at the Daily Mail who copy out press-releases from grouse moor owners with very little analysis – and for any of the Mail’s readers who might wonder just how accurate these ‘reports’ really are…So, after all that Daily Mail, do you think that grouse moor owners are ‘lobbying to educate’ or ‘lobbying to mislead’? Answers on a postcard please….

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