PROSPECTS for the opening of this year’s grouse season look 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 and is found exclusively in the UK.
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’s northern director, said: “The north west and Bowland areas have shown a mixed count in recent weeks, which is disappointing after a good spring count.
“Prolonged wet weather and some late snow have had a negative effect. Many moors have cancelled August dates, relying on some late broods for some restrained September shooting. The situation seems to improve further east, with some moors showing a strong population with big broods.”
Colin Shedden, BASC’s director Scotland, said: “After two reasonably productive years and, for some, record-breaking years, we are now seeing a mixed picture of grouse breeding success across Scotland.
“Weather has been the critical factor, as always, and this has led to some areas being reliant on second broods and possibly having to delay the start of their shooting programme.
“Walked up shooting will be less affected than driven shoots but it is clear that for many, including those visiting Scotland from abroad, the season will start well while others will catch up a few weeks later.
“Grouse shooting in Scotland is justifiably valued for many reasons, such as the sporting challenge, the scenery and the contribution the year-long management makes to wider biodiversity. One of the other reasons is its unpredictability and this season will probably reflect this.”