Truth: Extreme weather conditions cause flooding, not grouse moor management.
Far from seeking to create drier moors, managers appreciate that when it comes to grouse moors “wetter is better”.
Flooding can be inhibited by techniques such as blocking historical drainage ditches, restoring areas of bare peat and reintroducing sphagnum mosses.
Historically, drains – or “grips” – were encouraged across upland moors in the 1960s/70s by government agricultural subsidy payments. However, grouse moor managers have been rewetting moorlandfor decades now and continue to do so.
Truth: Research shows that controlled burning can lock in carbon as charcoal, increase the diversity of carbon-sinking sphagnum moss species, and reduce methane outputs (a climate change contributor) when compared to mowing.
Under the right circumstances, controlled burning can protect peatland and help achieve our net-zero targets.
Truth: Red grouse are truly wild birds that cannot be reared and released. They are only found in the British Isles and are closely associated with heather moorland, as heather is their primary food source.
Land management helps create a habitat where grouse, and many red- and amber-listed species, can live and reproduce.
Each year, the number of red grouse in such areas is counted and shooting only takes place if a sustainable surplus can be taken.
Truth: Hen harriers, and other raptors, are thriving on grouse moors. The habitat and predator control enables them to feed and breed successfully.
This year, The Moorland Association reported that hen harrier numbers hit a record high thanks to grouse moor management. The counts records at least 77 chicks fledged from 24 successful nests, of which 19 are on grouse moors.
Truth: Rewilding initiatives explore the benefits of rewetting, planting trees and addressing the climate emergency and extinction crisis. Many grouse moor managers are already tackling these issues.
The equivalent of more than 33,000 cars’ worth of carbon emissions is being removed from the atmosphere each year due to the environmental work of grouse moor estates in the north of England.
Grouse moors and their surrounding farmland are key to the survival of endangered species, including the iconic curlew, often described as the UK’s most threatened bird.
Truth: Over the last two years, challenges to lawful shooting-related practices have become more frequent and complex but not necessarily successful.
Many of the legal attacks have backfired, and sadly the countryside and wildlife have suffered as a result.
Weeks without general licences in 2019 allowed countless nests to be destroyed, crops decimated, and livestock attacked. Gulls are no longer on a general licence and are pillaging nests of amber- and red-listed species.
Far from opponents of shooting winning the argument however, a petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting was overwhelmingly rejected during a parliamentary debate earlier this year.
Truth: The 12th August is an iconic date which far surpasses being on a moor.
It marks the start of the annualopening of game seasons in the UK and it is an opportunity for an entire community to celebrate their hard work.
In reality, moors will start shooting at different times, for some this will be on 12 August and others much later in the season. This is because grouse management is very site-specific and affected by multiple factors.
Each year, moors count the number of grouse they have and a sustainable surplus calculated. If there are not enough red grouse to take a sustainable surplus, shooting does not take place.
Even when shooting doesn’t occur, the investment in the land, infrastructure and people is still required. On moors managed for grouse this is privately funded.
While there may only be a fraction of people involved in shooting on the Glorious Twelfth, shooters, beaters, pickers up, dogs, local businesses, and keepers will be marking the occasion in recognition of the community as a whole.