Let’s give them some of the same

Only Grouse shooting makes otherwise uneconomical moorland environmentally and economically viable.

The multi-agency group behind the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project has published its final report. Starting in 2008 a team of five gamekeepers was employed to reverse decades of decline, with the result that many species of birds long absent from the area, recolonised the moor and heather coverage, denuded by years of grazing, was restored; however, despite diversionary feeding of Hen Harrier, several years of ideal breeding conditions and the absence of shooting during this period, red grouse numbers did not thrive, their population heavily impacted upon by other protected birds of prey and corvids post fledging. It is a popular myth fostered by those who oppose grouse shooting, that modern management methods are inimical both to the health and well-being of our upland areas. This report demonstrates the inaccuracy of that claim, whilst underlining the high cost of managing moorland in a way that promotes and increases biodiversity; a level of management which is only economically viable where driven grouse shooting is a possibility.

The solid foundation of scientific observation that underpins the Project team’s report stands in stark contrast to the dodgy science and emotion which characterises the position of those who seek to end grouse shooting. But it also highlights something else, which is the sheer unfairness that demands in this case grouse shooters to go the time and cost of rebutting accusations made against them with oftentimes only supposition as evidence. The shooting community is now so used to this that it induces a collective shrug of the shoulders, but isn’t about time that we tried to dish out some of the same? Say, by focusing on the League Against Cruel Sports death-trap deer sanctuary at Baronsdown on Exmoor and demanding that our politicians seek accountability from those who run it?  Or the numerous environmental sinkholes managed by the RSPB, where predators run riot to the point where the charity dare not publish figures on bird numbers and which latterly led it to order 20000 traps from a New Zealand supplier?

Currently, the shooting bodies make a good fist of arguing their corner and pushing back against opponents who for the large part enjoy the ear of politicians and the sympathy of the media. What they do less well is working to undermine their opponents by highlighting the hypocrisies and cruelties that take place in their back yards. In this case we might learn from the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong, who said we should despise our enemy strategically, but take him seriously tactically.

1 Comment

  1. I have had the run of a 650 acre farm for the last thirty or so years, Nobody took much notice when about a dozen years ago a pair of Ravens set up home locally. Since then we have not seen a Hare around the farm, the duck pond produces a few clutches of eggs each spring but the ducklings last about two days before they are all eaten by the Ravens. Coots and Moorhens have disappeared from our lake and the canal. Rabbits are now scarce. Don’t even look for a Partridge. Despite an almost organic approach to agriculture by the Farmer we see few song birds, the Owls are not as many as in the 1990’s, and we have put up Owl boxes and have barns for them to use. In short the Ravens seem to be thriving and everything that can be eaten has been eaten. I find predated Pigeons eggs and a few hatched ones, not seen any Pheasants eggs for some time. The neighbouring farm had a wild duck area but in the last two seasons few duck have been seen on their ponds. We have Ravens, Gulls, Pigeons, Buzzards, Magpies, Jackdaws, Crows, a few Rooks: in short the area is becoming a desert for wildlife despite being a very good area for wildlife in theory. I believe that the Ravens are responsible for much of the decline of the local wildlife, we hear the Ravens all over Somerset, they are becoming the dominant avian species and being protected we can not control them. The land owner has put a restriction on the control of Foxes, this has been in place all of my tenure, yet there was always game to be had.
    I can only assume that when the Ravens and other Corvids have eaten every last living creature and there is no more road kill, (we collect the road kill in our area to prevent it being a source for the Magpies and Crows), that they in turn will move on, we can only hope? The time has come to review Ravens protected status, Buzzards I can put up with but Ravens are or have become a serious threat to wildlife.
    This is not a scientific study but the observations of a Countryman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.