A large number of native birds and mammals who are perceived to interfere with grouse shooting are trapped, poisoned or snared. Victims include stoats, weasels and even iconic raptors such as hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles.
An unnatural, heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment.
The Committee on Climate Change estimated that some 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year is emitted from upland peat in England, the majority of which (260,000 tonnes) is due to burning on grouse moors. The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science’s 2015 study concluded that moorland used for grouse shooting has seen an 11 per cent increase in burning activity year-on-year between 2001 and 2011.
Burning the peat-rich moors to produce dry ground suitable for growing heather, reduces the moorland’s ability to absorb and retain water. People living in towns and villages below have argued that such burning helps explain recent devastating flooding they have experienced.
The harsh ‘management’ of moorlands causes grouse numbers to boom. But as they overburden the landscape, they become weakened and fall prey to a lethal parasite – Strongylosis. This attacks the gut and leads to a collapse in the population.
A cycle of population boom and bust is the norm on Britain’s grouse moors.
Large quantities of lead shot are discharged, which is toxic to wildlife.
Grouse shooting estates use the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to restrict public access to mountains and moorland.
Grouse shoot operators – whose well-heeled clients can each pay more than £3,000 for a single day’s shooting – receive millions of pounds annually from the taxpayer via the Common Agricultural Policy.
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