'Glorious Twelfth': Grouse shooting season begins amid call for review

Monday 12th August 2019 09:30 BST

The four-month-long shooting season stars today but the party said alternatives should be considered, such as simulated shooting or wildlife tourism.

Labour said draining the land ready for the shooting season kills animals and destroys large areas of plant life.

The moors are often burned, increasing the chance of wildfires and flooding and increasing carbon emissions.

Labour said species such as mountain hares and hen harriers - a bird of prey - are often illegally culled to protect grouse chicks.

Predators such as foxes and stoats are also killed to maintain grouse numbers, say environmental and animal rights groups, who complain it is cruel because the birds are often deliberately driven towards the hunters.

England and Scotland have around 550,000 acres of grouse moors.

Labour said the 10 largest grouse moors in England received £3m in annual farm subsidies.

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: "The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties.

"For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it's our environment and our people who pay the price.

"There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice."

Duncan Thomas, from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said he believed any review would show the benefits of the practice.

"Grouse moors are biodiverse and the shoots they support create vital employment in isolated rural areas supporting communities," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"Effective heather management including burning and cutting creates amazing habitat and of course reduces the fuel load and risk of wildfire."

Grouse shooting contributes round £32m to the Scottish economy and supports about 2,640 jobs, said the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group.

Many visitors come from the US and Europe to take part.

The government said protecting the moorland environment was a "priority", as was the protection of the hen harrier, which it said was protected by law.

Ministers were said to be working closely with landowners and farmers to sign voluntary agreements over managing their land.

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