As the grouse shooting season opens today, BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC has applauded the conservation work that will continue despite many moors cancelling most, if not all, of their days this season.
Days have been cancelled to allow grouse numbers to recover from the catastrophic effects of this year’s extremes of weather.
Mr Glenser said: “While there is disappointment that people aren’t shooting, we need to remember that the excellent conservation work carried out as a part of grouse shooting will continue. If it wasn’t for grouse shooting, that conservation work would not exist in the first place.
“The lack of grouse shooting this year should highlight exactly what grouse shooting means to local communities; its true benefits will be more apparent in its absence. Hotel bookings will be cancelled; pubs, restaurants and shops will lose trade and the impact will be felt in the isolated rural communities that grouse shooting supports.
“The knock-on effect on fragile local economies is likely to hit hard. But the conservation work will carry on. Gamekeepers will remain in post and the uplands they conserve will continue to support not only grouse, but a whole host of other, often threatened, wildlife.”
Mr Glenser said there were no guarantees that grouse shooting would resume next year and people need to support those whose jobs depend on its positive benefits.
He added: “The red grouse is a truly wild bird. There will always be peaks and troughs and unpredictability around the number available to shoot during the season. It could be two or three years before we see a sustainable surplus once again.
“But the people involved in the custodianship of the habitat they need to thrive still have bills to pay which is why it is incredibly important to support them even in the not-so-good years.
“In a typical year, the estimated annual value of grouse shooting in England, Wales and Scotland is £100 million. There will be a shortfall this year. As a consequence, people will be looking for ways to diversify and bring innovative income streams into their areas. The whole shooting community should join together and support positive initiatives.
“We are all true country sports people at heart and with that comes a responsibility to support shooting through the difficult times as well as the good times.”