Anyone who follows us on Twitter will have noticed that we have had a great deal to say about grouse shooting recently, and may well be wondering what on earth this could have to do with a campaign to establish a National Park. This post is therefore an attempt to answer some of those questions.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that we have always seen ourselves as part of a wider conservation movement. This is because our wish to protect the South Pennines is driven by a desire to protect all of our beautiful landscapes, and in particular the wildlife, geology and heritage of these areas. It’s for this reason that we support the campaigns of conservation organisations throughout Britain and Ireland, and not just those operating within the South Pennines. Of course, there are extensive grouse moors within the South Pennines, and the current debate is therefore of particular relevance to the area.
There has recently been a significant re-appraisal of the role played by grouse moor management. There are two main criticisms of grouse shooting estates, which are dealt with in turn below.
- Illegal killing of birds of prey is sadly still widespread on grouse moors. It must be emphasised that the owners of the moors protest that this is nothing to do with them, but the all too frequent discovery of deliberately killed birds of prey on the moors has led many people to conclude otherwise.
- The management of grouse moors is highly intrusive and disruptive to the natural ecosystem. In particular, it is increasingly felt that that heather burning, drainage, predator control and tree felling, all of which are routinely practised by shooting estates, are an unwarranted and damaging interference in the ecology of the uplands. The construction of miles of vehicle tracks and wire fences also leaves highly visible visual scars on the landscape.
It’s important to state that our opposition to grouse shooting is based entirely on its negative implications for conservation, and has nothing to do with animal rights. Some of our supporters may hold pro-animal rights views, which of course they are perfectly entitled to, but it is beyond the remit of an organisation like SPCN to take any stance on animal rights issues.
This post hasn’t gone into the arguments in any great detail, as to do so would simply repeat information already available elsewhere. There are some excellent blog-posts by Mark Avery (formerly of the RSPB) on his website, which provide a very balanced and informative view of the subject. These posts also provide links to the evidence, as well as to a petition that Mark has set up, which calls upon the UK Government to outlaw driven grouse shooting in England and Wales. See in particular the following posts: http://markavery.info/2014/06/15/banning-driven-grouse-shooting-bit-summary-issues/
Chris Townsend of The Great Outdoors magazine has also recently written about grouse shooting, this time concentrating on the visual impacts on the landscape.
Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor is coalition of groups campaigning to end grouse shooting on the iconic Ilkley Moor, in the South Pennines. They have launched an online petition calling upon Bradford MDC to end grouse shooting on the moor.
Ban the Burn is another South Pennines-based group, which campaigns to end heather burning and drainage ditches on blanket bogs.