Many grouse shooters will put down their guns this season to allow the uplands to recover from the ‘catastrophic’ effects of the weather so far this year.
Many moors in the north of England have cancelled most, if not all grouse shooting, to allow grouse numbers to recover from the devastating impact of the “Beast from the East”; hard, freezing weather and a hot and dry summer.
Members of shoots may have paid for a season’s shooting and although they may not get to shoot, the gamekeepers they employ will remain in post and the conservation work they carry out will continue.
Duncan Thomas, BASC North director, said: “The situation is localised and some moors with a more positive aspect may still shoot. On a visit I made to a moor in the run-up to the start of the season, one side of the moor was covered in healthy heather and grouse and the other was barren with heather beetle and there were no grouse.
“It’s commendable that the Guns have suspended shooting this year, grouse are a wild bird and we only ever shoot a sustainable surplus. The amazing conservation work will still continue. Many species have thrived in the uplands this year including curlew, lapwing, peregrines, short eared owls and merlins. In addition, we have seen the most successful hen harrier breeding season in England for more than a decade.
“There are no guarantees shooting will resume next year. The restraint shown to allow the grouse numbers to recover should be applauded.”
In Scotland, the prospects were said to be almost as challenging as in the north of England.
Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, said: “Nearly all driven days have been cancelled with only a few estates hoping that they may manage a day later on in the season.
“The situation in Scotland, also affected by the very dry weather, may have been compounded by reported high numbers of tick that can actually kill grouse chicks.”
Notes to editors:
*The famous ‘Glorious Twelfth’ falls on a Sunday this year – which means there will be no shooting until at least August 13th.
The Game Act 1831 prohibits game shooting on a Sunday and on Christmas Day in England and Wales.
This law does not apply in Scotland, traditionally game birds are not shot on a Sunday.