‘Glorious Twelfth’ marks start of new grouse shooting season

Estate owners and gamekeepers are hopeful the new grouse shooting season will be better than last year, when extreme weather hit breeding.

Monday marks the “Glorious Twelfth”, the start of the 16-week season when hunting enthusiasts seek out red grouse on moors across the country.

At Rottal Estates in Glen Clova, Angus, owner Dee Ward said he is fully booked over the next three weeks with guests who will take part in shoots before dining on the birds.

He is optimistic about grouse numbers after a poor season in 2018, when late snow followed by very dry conditions reduced the number successfully breeding.

The Glorious 12th
Head keeper Mark Palmer with Paddy the dog (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Ward said: “The grouse were out of condition when they came to breed and then we had very dry weather so there was not a lot of insect life, which the chicks require in the first few days to survive.

“We feel that it’s going to be a slightly better year this year. Hopes are high.”

The start of the season has reignited the debate over grouse shooting, which environmental and animal welfare campaigners say is barbaric and damages important natural habitats.

They claim predators such as foxes and stoats are routinely killed to keep grouse numbers up and have expressed concern over the disappearance of a number of birds of prey over grouse moors in recent months.

Labour is calling for a review of grouse shooting and said consideration should be given to “viable alternatives” such as simulated shooting or wildlife tourism.

But moorland groups cite the boost to the rural economy and the trickle-down effect to communities and say managed grouse moors support other wildlife.

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Land and Estates Moorland Group, said: “The Scottish Government have very sensibly decided to have a review, with a panel of experts looking at all the different aspects, and we expect their report in the coming weeks.

“That seems to be the best way to approach this. The grouse shooting sector is very keen to do whatever it can to improve best practice and work with the public.”

Bob Elliot, director of animal charity OneKind, said: “There is nothing glorious about the day which marks the start of the shooting of large numbers of grouse.

“Wildlife culling is carried out all year round, on an enormous scale, to eradicate predators from the moors.

“These animals can be legally trapped, shot and snared in Scotland’s countryside with very little in the way of public scrutiny, inspection, or regulation by the authorities.

“People are now far more aware of the issues of intensively-managed grouse moors and the more they hear, the less they like it.”

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