Prospects for the opening of this year’s grouse season are mixed, according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
The 12th of August, known as the Glorious Twelfth, marks the start of the grouse shooting seasons in the UK. The wild red grouse, known as the king of the gamebirds, only thrives on carefully managed moorland.
The grouse season runs from August 12th to December 10th on mainland Great Britain and from August 12th to November 30th in Northern Ireland.
Actively managed grouse moors are found mainly in Scotland and northern England. Ninety per cent of English grouse moors fall within a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – 79 percent of the Pennines and North Yorkshire Moors Special Protection areas are managed for grouse. Red grouse can’t be reared, therefore the main influence on annual numbers is the weather during the breeding season.
Duncan Thomas, BASC North director, said: “All looks well for the Season 2017. Most Northern Moors enjoyed a decent stock left over and the spring counts were positive. We had an excellent hatch and the insect-rich damp humid weather in late May certainly helped boost the youngsters, with some good brood sizes.
“Alas, some near biblical wet weather for a solid week in June took some casualties, but it’s clear now that the valiant efforts of some late-sitting grouse have produced some late broods.
“Most moors are reporting counts of 5.9 and above, with a bumper batch of Curlews and upland waders complementing the hard work. We wish the gamekeepers and the Guns well.”
Colin Shedden, BASC’s director Scotland, said: “Scotland looks as if it will have a mixed grouse season this year. While the spring weather was generally good some late snow and early June downpours affected broods in some areas. In central Highlands, estates that enjoyed a record year in 2016 have already cancelled many ‘let’ days. Chick mortality due to high tick numbers has also been cited.
“The mixed picture will probably extend to the Angus moors, but the Lammermuirs in the south east appear to have done better, reflecting the picture in the north of England.”