The fake news about grouse moors

Gareth Dockerty

Gareth Dockerty

Gareth is head of uplands at BASC. Having joined the organisation in 2016, Gareth’s role focuses on ensuring decision makers, stakeholders and the public understand the benefits of shooting for upland habitats and rural communities.

It’s that time of year again; when the articles start circulating that Yorkshire Water are set to ban grouse shooting on their moorland. Gareth Dockerty sorts the fact from the fake news…

BASC members and regular readers of our website will know that this latest coverage is merely a lazy rerun of an anti-grouse shooting agenda that has been appearing in the media over the past few years.

Last summer, it was reported in the local press that Yorkshire Water had committed to a phasing out of shooting tenancies on Yorkshire’s moors following two years of talks with an animal rights campaign group.

This appeared in an article with the headline “Yorkshire Water to end grouse shooting tenancies on two of its moors with eight more up for review”.

Unsurprisingly, the story turned out to be completely untrue.

A balancing act

It is a fine balancing act for BASC on how we comment on this fake news without drawing any more attention to those behind the extremist campaign. But it is important to share the facts and not pander to anti-shooting agendas.

BASC, along with other shooting organisations, has been working closely with Yorkshire Water for several years. Its fair to say that our experiences in doing so have been very positive. Yorkshire Water is a responsible landowner who is committed to delivering for nature recovery.

They have a clear vision on how its land should deliver called Beyond Nature, listing “Sporting Enterprise” as one of the nine pillars within it. 

Yorkshire Water has also been a key partner in Let’s Learn Moor, providing educational opportunities and activities for thousands of schoolchildren, alongside gamekeepers and other stakeholders.

The truth of the matter

It is true that as farming and sporting tenancies come up for renewal they will be reviewed, but this is standard practice for any organisation.

Contrary to the recent headlines, the review period is actually a positive opportunity for many shoots to demonstrate their individual benefits, particularly for the protection and recovery of declining species. 

It is a chance for shoots to be evaluated alongside other stakeholders, demonstrating how the shooting community can offer solutions to many government and Yorkshire Water environment targets.

The benefits of sustainable shooting

We are confident that sustainable shooting will continue to have a positive impact on Yorkshire Water’s core objectives. In turn we’re working hard behind the scenes ensuring our members’ shoots can demonstrate the benefits they bring for nature recovery, while helping to maintain landscape quality.

We have also been discussing the important boost that shooting contributes to local economies through employment, while providing great quality, local, ethical food.

It’s just unfortunate that the same attempt to spread anti-shooting fake news has resulted in these articles. BASC has contacted the journalists concerned and invited them to visit upland shoots, to see how they are currently delivering for nature and communities.

The focus for BASC will continue to be working with shoots, and maintaining our strong relationship with Yorkshire Water. We will not be side-tracked by extremist groups as they continue to spread the same fake news every few months.

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