In the uplands, their day-to-day work is extensive. Their primary job is to enhance moorland habitat and support the species that thrive on it. Such is their success, scientific findings show keepered grouse moors are home to up to five times more threatened wading birds than similar, non-shooting sites.
However, working in the remotest areas of the country comes with other responsibilities, such as dealing with wildfires, criminal activity and even mountain rescue operations.
Gamekeepers have reported a significant increase in wildfires this year – some natural, some accidental and some deliberate. As so many occur on such remote and difficult terrain, more than 1,000 wildfires this year have been dealt with by gamekeepers before the requirement of the fire brigade.
With the right equipment and knowledge, gamekeepers can react fast and save countless acres of pristine habitat and many species of wildlife.
Tina Brough, North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation (NYMMO) coordinator, said:
“The speed and knowledge of gamekeepers on the ground has saved the taxpayer significant costs that would be attached to call-outs from the fire engines.
“It is the gamekeepers advising people against starting fires and the dangers from wildfires. And when it comes to the uplands, it is always the gamekeepers who are first to react and put their lives at risk to save others.”
Being on the ground and working in some of the most remote areas, stories of gamekeepers catching criminals first-hand are all too common. Be it poachers, fly-tippers or other criminals, gamekeepers play an essential role in helping to combat crime in rural areas.
Tina Brough said:
“Incidents of fly-tipping have increased through the lockdown period. The close working partnerships between gamekeepers and the police have played a significant role in catching criminals who think they can use our precious uplands as their own personal dump.”
The local mountain rescue teams provide an essential service on the moors; even in the summer months the weather can change quickly.
When people do get lost or find themselves in difficulty, the gamekeepers are often called upon to help with the search. Their equipment and knowledge of the local area is vital to ensure people are found quickly.
The moors are a special place for both visitors and nature. Here are our top tips for staying safe and protecting these stunning landscapes:
1) Always wear suitable clothing and footwear.
2) Take some water and food and make sure you have a map of the area. Mobile signal can be patchy in remote rural areas and the weather can change quickly, even in the summer months.
3) Please keep dogs on a lead – the moors are home to grazing animals like sheep and cattle and a variety of wildlife including many species of declining ground-nesting birds.
4) Do not make campfires or take BBQs onto moorland, even in the winter months. Wildfires can easily be started and cause devastation to wildlife while releasing carbon into the air.
5) There is no wild camping permitted in England. Please make use of the local campsites and enjoy a safe trip while supporting local businesses.