The Wildlife

Heather moorland managed for grouse shooting is home to an abundance of wildlife thanks to the hard work and dedication of skilled gamekeepers. From threatened, red-listed species such as curlew, merlin, ring ouzel and lapwing, to specialist plant species including sphagnum mosses, cross-leaved heath and bilberry, a rich array of species prosper in the conditions created by habitat and wildlife management – much of which is privately funded.

Species of the moor

  • Moorland managed for grouse shooting has been shown to support at least 76 different bird species, 43 of which are considered ‘endangered’.
  • Grouse moors are important strongholds for many of the UK’s most threatened wading bird species – including curlew, lapwing, redshank and golden plover.
  • Research has shown that in areas where legal predator control is undertaken by gamekeepers, skylarks are 32 percent more prolific and there are six times more curlew, eight times more golden plover, and 24 times more lapwing than in moorland areas with little or no predator control.
  • Birds of prey including peregrine falcons, buzzards, short-eared owls, kestrels, golden eagles and hen harriers can and do thrive on moorland managed for grouse shooting.
  • Without the moorland management practices that go hand-in-hand with building a harvestable surplus of red grouse, many other wildlife species would be at greater risk of local extinction.
  • Grouse moors offer very good habitat for mountain hares. Intensive fox control and rotational heather burning to encourage new growth of young heather are just two practices that work in the species’ favour.
  • Bell heather, ling heather, bog asphodel, sundew and bog rosemary are just a few of the plant species associated with heather moorland managed for grouse shooting. Elsewhere these species are often vulnerable to overgrazing and the effects of afforestation.
  • A range of reptiles, small mammals such as voles, and invertebrates also inhabit heather moorland managed for grouse shooting.

Read more about how people are maintaining this unique landscape.

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There are four different species of grouse in the UK. Without management for grouse, certain plants on the moors would not survive. The shooting season for red grouse starts on the Glorious Twelfth and finishes on 10 December.

There are a number of gamebirds, waterfowl (ducks, geese and waders) and other bird species, as well as mammals, which can be shot legally. For many there is a close season when it is illegal to shoot them, and this helps to ensure that they are able to breed successfully and move between breeding and wintering grounds. The bird quarry species and their open seasons in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands can be found here.

Black Grouse


Red Grouse


It is very difficult to identify male and female red grouse, however...

Can you distinguish a male grouse from a female red grouse? How many species of grouse can you name?

Take our quiz on 'all things grouse.'
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