4 March 2018
Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to the UK government calls for ban on driven grouse shooting, and as support for it is increasing, it’s interesting that very recently, the new Environmental Advisor to Theresa May (Sir John Randall) has expressed his deep concern about driven grouse shooting, mainly due to the ongoing criminal persecution of birds of prey, along with the ‘intensification’ of pheasant shooting1.
A day after bloodsports lobbyists go the press with their concerns about a ‘war on fieldsports’2, information comes to light of a rare goshawk nest being destroyed in a public forest, which, coincidentally, is surrounded by driven grouse moors3. This neatly finishes the year by showing, once again, what driven grouse shooting depends on; relentless persecution of countless predators whether legally protected or not. Fortunately, opposition from grassroots campaigners & activists, professional wildlife organisations & politicians is increasing…
These are the results of widespread concern & disgust with this ‘fieldsport’, but what are the issues…?
Snares are commonly used to eliminate foxes (legally12) & badgers (illegally13) to boost the numbers of red grouse for shooting, despite the cruelty involved and despite the latter species being fully protected by law. DEFRA knows full well the welfare implications of these hideous traps and how often they catch and severely harm countless ‘non-target’ species14. Last year we saw masked gamekeepers snaring & shooting badgers on the Moscar Estate, which coincidentally belongs to the Duke of Rutland (the Duke owns the Belvoir Hunt who have been involved in sketchy behaviour to say the least15, 16). Prohibition of driven grouse shooting would hopefully bring an end to, or heavily reduce, the use of these so-called ‘humane traps’ on upland habitat.
- Climate Change
Intensive burning of heather on moorland is done to create better conditions for red grouse in order to have more boost the amount of birds available to be shot for sport. This exacerbates the global issue of climate change and has been described by the Committee for Climate Change as a continued damaging practice17. Burning also creates many other issues such as decreased biodiversity amongst macroinvertebrate communities (insects, basically) along with adverse impacts on Sphagnum moss species, which are critical to the creation of carbon storing peat18. Yet another practice of moorland bloodsport managers that degrades the environment.
- Illegal Bird of Prey Persecution
Criminal destruction of raptors on moorland is rampant; most famously the hen harrier but falcons19, 20, eagles21 & other species are widely persecuted. In the Peak District, attempts to work with those responsible for the crimes to boost raptor numbers appear to be futile, as some of the key species for the Bird of Prey initiative continue to face widespread hostility and are not recovering22.
Gavin Gamble’s Petition
Concerns about animal cruelty might have struck home within the Conservative Party, likely because their tendency to endorse sociopathy (like fox hunting23) hasn’t done them any favours.
They could be on the right side of history and take the action that Gavin Gamble is asking for, to bring an end to the issues above and the countless other degradations inflicted on the environment by a criminal shooting industry, but his petition needs many more signatures before then.
1 - The correspondence between Sir John Randall & Findlay Wilde on his concerns & thoughts around game shooting, wildlife crime & other issues has been published on 04/12/2017 by Findlay Wilde (Webpage).
2 - Raptor Persecution UK (RPUK) published information on the ‘war on fieldsports’ article on 30/12/2017 (RPUKwebpage).
3 - RPUK published information on 30/12/2017 on the goshawk nest incident in Moy Forest, belonging to Forestry Commission Scotland, along with the original article (RPUKwebpage).
4 - RPUK published information on 02/12/2017 about SNP’s policy change along with the adopted motion in full (RPUKwebpage).
5 - Hunt Investigation Team (HIT)’s full investigation of the Moscar Estate from Spring 2017 can be seen here (Investigation Video).
6 - A press release from the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) dated 13/08/2017 explains that over 100 hunt saboteurs disrupted shoots in the Peak District at the opening of the grouse shooting season (bit.ly/2x8dtKZ).
7 - Moorland Vision consists of a dozen outdoor/environmental organisations such as Derbyshire Mammal Group. They are campaigning for the National Trust to stop allowing driven grouse shooting on two of their Peak District estates after the tenant at the time was linked to potential hen harrier persecution (SIGN PETITION).
Their statement dated 10/01/2018 in response to the renewed shooting leases can be seen here (bit.ly/2BsRlgn).
8 - Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM)’s statement from 17/01/2018 about Bradford Council’s decision not to renew the grouse shooting lease when it expires can be seen here (bit.ly/2Ea82Ad).
9 - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s statement about renewed grouse shooting leases on National Trust land in the Peak District, dated 17/01/2018, can be seen here (bit.ly/2EapQv6).
10 - RPUK posted the full RSPB press statement about the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative on 23/01/2018 (bit.ly/2GhFJQY).
11 - Freedom of Information (FoI) requests from RPUK revealed that the Moorland Association actively suppressed press releases relating to the most recent bird of prey report from the Peak District. The FoI results were published here on 23/01/2018 (bit.ly/2DzgZC5).
12 - HIT’s footage of a fox being snared & shot on the Moscar Estate in Spring 2017 can be seen here (bit.ly/2DDhg6E).
13 - HIT’s footage of a badger being snared & shot on the Moscar Estate in Spring 2017 can be seen here (bit.ly/2EaeE1v).
14 - An in depth report on snaring in the UK was submitted to DEFRA in 2005 (bit.ly/2rbKPZF).
15 - BBC news report dated 24/12/2015 describes a captive fox being discovered & released from a shed linked to the Belvoir/Duke of Rutland’s Foxhounds (bbc.in/1PmUd2w).
16 - Two League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) investigators were attacked at a meet of the Belvoir Hunt in March 2016 (bit.ly/2rLnYX4).
17 - Chris Packham summarised the Committee for Climate Change’s stance here (bit.ly/2oHJKF2).
18 - The EMBER (Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River basins) project from the University of Leeds released their key findings in an executive summary here (bit.ly/2GnpEsO).
19 - North-East Scotland Raptor Study Group published a study on the lack of success of peregrines on grouse moors in Scotland due to criminal persecution, as described by RPUK on 11/10/2015 (bit.ly/2DFkdUl).
20 - Terry Pickford from the North West Raptor Group describes the losses of peregrines on grouse moors in Lancashire due to criminal persecution in this video (bit.ly/2njAmIa).
21 - A major analysis of satellite tag data for golden eagles in Scotland was clear in its findings that many of the disappearances of eagles were suspicious and connected to grouse moor management (bit.ly/2sY9JKS).
22 - Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative overview for 2016 & 2017 shows that peregrine falcons & short-eared owls continually to breed in some areas (bit.ly/2nioI16).
23 - Theresa May announced before the 2017 General Election that she ‘has always been in favour of fox hunting’ (bit.ly/2ChQIeS).