Grouse season is delayed or cancelled by many shoots as bad weather kills off chicks


Grouse shoots face delays or being cancelled altogether as bad weather this year has blighted tomorrow’s Glorious Twelfth.

Some moors have been battered by rain and cold conditions during the Spring meaning fewer birds are around.

The hard frosts while chicks were hatching plus sleet and rain saw reports of whole broods being lost.

But shooters are holding out hope for a later start to the season when there could be a boost to the number of grouse.

Some moors have been battered by rain and cold conditions during the Spring - meaning fewer birds are around (file photo)

Some moors have been battered by rain and cold conditions during the Spring – meaning fewer birds are around (file photo)

The hard frosts while chicks were hatching plus sleet and rain saw fewer survive with reports of whole broods lost (file photo)

The hard frosts while chicks were hatching plus sleet and rain saw fewer survive with reports of whole broods lost (file photo)

The Glorious Twelfth: How mid August date is traditionally the busiest day of the shooting season 

The Glorious Twelfth marks the opening day of the red grouse shooting season, which can be found in the heather uplands of England and Scotland.

It considerably boots the rural economy and provides moorland management.

The Red Grouse, unique to the British Isles, has been described as the finest gamebird in the world.

It is known to be a challenging gamebird to shoot due to it being an extremely fast, low flying bird, who keeps to the contours of the moor.

The grouse shooting industry is worth an estimated £67 million, and creates hundreds of jobs, aiding the British economy.  

England’s moorland owners have dedicated more than £50million annual spend on the conservation of threatened species, with the money gained from grouse shooting contributing to aiding in this. 

The game management controls any overpopulation of the grouse which may occur. 

Species such as the golden plover and the lapwing have benefited from this management. 

The shoot helps to provide game meat to be sold by retailers, which is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and has also led to British Association for Shooting Conversation releasing limited edition crisps, flavoured with grouse and pheasant.

Source: Fur, Feather and Fin 

A Countryside Alliance spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Some moors that were less affected by the bad weather in the Spring, will be shooting, but many others have delayed until later in the year or had to cancel altogether.

‘This could well be hard year for many rural communities in our uplands, a poor grouse season affecting not just local businesses for whom the sport can be the main economic driver, but also the numerous people that rely on the casual work that a day’s grouse shooting brings.

‘The hard frosts when birds were laying, followed by sleet and cold rain when the eggs were hatching, resulted in very few chicks, with whole broods having been lost to the weather.

‘Hopefully later broods will have done better, and with luck some moors will have a sustainable surplus of grouse to allow shooting to take place later in the season.’

Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: ‘Given that we are talking about a totally wild bird, such setbacks are not unknown.’

But he added: ‘Irrespective of whether or when shooting takes place during any particular season, grouse moor owners will continue their crucial investment into the management of this unique upland habitat.

‘2021 has been another record year for Hen Harriers with at least 77 chicks fledged, 80 per cent on managed grouse moors thanks to the work of game keepers and moorland managers.’

The Glorious Twelfth marks the opening day of the red grouse shooting season, which can be found in the heather uplands of England and Scotland.

The industry is worth an estimated £67million, and creates hundreds of jobs, aiding the British economy.

England’s moorland owners have dedicated more than £50million annual spend on the conservation of threatened species, with the money gained from grouse shooting contributing to aiding in this.

The shoot helps to provide game meat to be sold by retailers, which is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

It has also led to British Association for Shooting Conversation releasing limited edition crisps, flavoured with grouse and pheasant.

Meanwhile one of Britain’s most endangered birds of prey is continuing to make a stunning comeback with figures showing a record number of births for hen harrier chicks.

A survey by the Moorland Association, found that 77 hen harriers have been born this year, following on from a last year’s record of 60

A survey by the Moorland Association, found that 77 hen harriers have been born this year, following on from a last year’s record of 60

Ever since the introduction of grouse shooting in the Victorian era, birds of prey such as the hen harrier have been under threat

Ever since the introduction of grouse shooting in the Victorian era, birds of prey such as the hen harrier have been under threat

A survey by the Moorland Association, found 77 hen harriers have been born this year, following on from a last year’s record of 60.

As recently as 2017, an RSPB investigation found not a single hen harrier chick was produced on England’s grouse moors.

Hen harrier breeding and the number of fledged chicks has shown remarkable progress since the introduction of the government-led hen harrier recovery to combat their dwindling numbers and a brood management trial, which involves removing some chicks from nests to rear them in captivity if multiple nests are made on grouse moors.

Ever since the introduction of grouse shooting in the Victorian era, birds of prey such as the hen harrier have been under threat.

Hen harriers nest and roost in heather and on open, upland moors, in close proximity to each other.

They often feed on the eggs of grouse, which also dominate the area and provide a lucrative driven grouse shooting season.

This has led to hen harriers being killed in huge numbers, causing their numbers to drop.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, which represents England’s Grouse moor owners, said: ‘This is another excellent year for hen harrier breeding and the wonderful pictures and footage we are seeing from our members’ moors is truly heartening.

‘Three good years in a row shows that we have the right strategy to help the population to recover to a sustainable level, occupying a much greater area of England.

‘The management carried out on grouse moors by gamekeepers provides an ideal habitat for birds of prey, with fewer predators to steal their eggs, and good numbers of prey species such as small mammals and other birds.

‘We will continue to support initiatives that are delivering results for the UK’s hen harrier population.’



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