Tag: grouse moors

Mountain Hares (partially) protected

The Scottish Government have finally confirmed they will implement a Scottish Greens amendment to protect Mountain Hares under the proposed Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act. The amendment came on the back of a 2019 report by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to the EU which revealed that Scotland’s Mountain Hare populations have experienced a major decline [BTO Breeding Bird Survey mammal data concluded that there had been notable decreases in mountain hare populations in 108 of the 316 10km squares for which the species was assessed in Scotland between 1995/99 and 2011/15 time periods].The report led to the conservation status of the Mountain Hare being downgraded to unfavourable, which meant that special conservation action needed to be undertaken to halt further declines and aid their recovery. The amendment means that Mountain Hares will only be permitted to be killed under licence (for example to ‘protect’ forestry operations), and will effectively end the mass-scale killing on grouse moors.

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Scotland | Licencing sends Grouse industry into meltdown

After ignoring every warning they’ve ever been given that unless things change Scotland’s government was going to be forced into doing something about grouse moors, the industry is shaking its collective head in faux-shock and faux-indignation that Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon has decided that self-regulation hasn’t worked (“self-regulation alone will not be enough to end the illegal killing of raptors”) and has stated in parliament that, “I believe that the Government needs to act…and begin developing a licensing scheme now”. Ms Gougeon also said that the Scottish government planned to regulate the use of medicated grit (trays of the stuff litter grouse moors), and to license muirburn, the controversial practice of burning old heather to promote younger growth for grouse to feed on. This fetid industry should have been gone long ago. It doesn’t deserve the opportunity to survive that licencing gives them, but it’s so unlikely that shooting can stop behaving like a delinquent it will end up closing itself down within a few years anyway…

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RSPB launches burning reporting website

The RSPB is today launching a website where members of the public can submit their records of managed burning in northern England’s uplands as part of showing the Government where burning is still taking place. The charity will then analyse the records to see if they’re likely to be on peat soils (to indicate where blanket bog should be) and in protected areas (SSSIs, SACs). An IUCN report on peatland estimated that the UK may host between 8.8 and 14.8% of Europe’s peatland area and about 13% of the world resource of blanket bog. They state that though blanket bog has a species-poor assemblage it “contains an exceptionally high proportion of species with legal protection under UK and European conservation law“. Blanket bog forms the largest expanse of semi-natural habitat in the UK, but almost three quarters of peatlands in England are already damaged or degraded, according to Natural England, with burning a key driver.

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Herald Scotland Poll | Grouse shooting in Scotland: Are you for or against?

The grouse shooting industry has been fighting a rearguard battle lately, attempting to sell its message of ‘Game is Good’ amidst a tidal wave of reports of raptor persecution, the widespread use of traps and snares, Mountain Hare culls, and burning moorland. Adding to their woes is an increasing backlash against killing hundreds of thousands of wild birds for ‘fun’ and arising awareness of animal sentience. It’ll be interesting then to see how the industry responds to a poll by The Herald (a Scottish broadsheet which is the longest running national newspaper in the world and the eighth oldest daily paper in the world) which has closed after asking its readers ‘Are you For or Against Grouse Shooting’ .

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Huge majority of Scots opposed to grouse shooting

New data gathered by League Against Cruel Sports Scotland as part of its work with the Revive Coalition for grouse moor reform show that seven in ten of those polled are opposed to grouse shooting for sport. The figures will come as an unwelcome wake-up call to the grouse shooting industry which has relied for years on its ‘normalisation’ of slaughtering grouse and a supportive media trotting out the mantra of tradition, ‘sport’ and the (in)glorious twelfth and the importance to the economy of a relatively few minimum wage jobs. That was never sustainable under targeted analysis that has uncovered the truth about wildlife crime, raptor persecution, widescale trapping of snaring of native predators, and the burning of the uplands solely to support the intensive farming of Red grouse for the gun.

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The Langholm Initiative | Dare to dream the ‘impossible dream’

Well, well, well. The impossible dream becomes possible with imagination and hard work. Huge congratulations to the team at the Langhgolm Community Initiative who this afternoon announced that with just hours to go before the deadline was reached they’d succeeded in a buy out of a grouse moor, which they plan to turn into a potentially hugely important nature reserve – the ‘Tarras Valley Nature Reserve’, will see globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, native woodlands planted and regenerated along river valleys, and open moorland protected for ground-nesting birds.

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Portrait of a fox cub on grouse moor

A beautiful wild animal on an upland, photographed exploring the world it’s just been born in? No, yet another victim of grouse shooting. A tweet from the grassroots community network Moorland Monitors says it all really: another dead animal on a grouse moor, shot dead after being trapped in a snare. This cub was found by the Calder Valley Hunt Saboteurs on a snare site near Hebden Bridge. It will be just one of thousands of fox cubs killed this month to protect the grouse shooting industry’s profits.

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RSPB | Birdcrime Report released

Every year the RSPB releases a Birdcrime Report (which can be downloaded for free as a pdf). The new report covers 2019, and has a welcome focus on the wildlife crimes that underpin the grouse shooting industry (which the RSPB wants licencing rather than banning outright – something we’ve previously discussed in ‘Grouse Moors | Licencing Slaughter’). The whole report is of course well worth reading. If you’re a lobbyist for the grouse shooting industry you’ve got to hope that no-one finds this thing because it’s incendiary, but if you’re a regular member of the public with a love of birds while the report is quite depressing (despite the positive actions outlined inside) it’s good to see just how pointed the RSPB’s criticism of grouse shooting has become.

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