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True cost of grouse shooting: more than 260,000 animals slaughtered each year

This news post is almost 2 years old

​Staggering extent of wildlife destruction to support a 'sport' enjoyed by the few is revealed

The true, shocking extent of animal slaughter as a result of the driven grouse industry has been revealed.

Campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland have published what they say is the most comprehensive and robust field study of ground predator control on Scotland’s shooting estates.

Over 15 months, an independent surveyor mapped the location and frequency of traps and snares set on seven grouse-killing estates to calculate the true extent of animal deaths as a result of predator control.

Analysis of the survey data by a leading scientist concludes that up to a quarter of a million animals are killed every year to maintain high numbers of grouse for sport shooting, with nearly half of these non target species.

It was found that there are 57,000 killing devices deployed each day in Scotland representing the equivalent of over 10,000,000 active trapping and snaring days per year.

Up to a quarter of a million animals are killed each year in an attempt to totally eradicate foxes, stoats, weasels and crows to increase the number of grouse.

Nearly half of the animals killed are non target species such as hedgehogs, dippers and mistle thrush.

The study also found that failure to comply with existing codes of practice is widespread on Scottish grouse moors, and that best practice guidelines produced by professional organisations that represent the shooting industry appear to serve little useful function.

Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “These figures have shocked and appalled us. This is the most comprehensive, quantitative study of predator control giving an illustration of the grim reality of Scotland’s grouse moors, where up to a quarter of a million animals are simply wiped out to ensure grouse numbers are kept artificially high.”

“Our report Calculating Cruelty leaves us in absolutely no doubt that managing such large parts of Scottish moorland for an industry which makes a woefully low contribution to the economy is entirely misguided and outdated.”

Between June 2018 and September 2019 a surveyor, with over 20 years experience of game management recorded the scale, distribution and use of legal grouse moor management equipment and practices.

Using the Scottish right to responsible access, the estates were walked and all ground was viewed so that the items being specifically surveyed were likely to be found. All ground was covered at least once with all tracks and watercourses checked carefully. The estates surveyed were had various intensities of management practices, and included large tracts of land in Angus, Aberdeenshire, Invernesshire and Sutherland.

The survey was carried out without the estates being notified so that the data was not biased by management practises changing as a result of the survey and no legally set trap or snare was interfered with in any way. This is the first time that such a widespread and detailed survey of estates has been undertaken.

The report is part of a series of reports by the various partners of Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform, a campaign group bringing together social justice, environmental and animal welfare organisations. Since its inception in 2018 Revive has shone the spotlight on the circle of destruction surrounding driven grouse moors, campaigning for their radical reform.

The moors, when managed for grouse, have been referred to as an “ecological desert” where a monoculture of birds is produced which go before the guns of wealthy grouse moor patrons.

The links between the grouse industry and the illegal destruction of birds of prey are well known and well established.

Marsland added: “The enormity of the figures produced by the data in this report is simply staggering. The League and our partners in Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform think it is unconscionable to kill any animal, let alone up to a quarter of a million, to ensure that hundreds of thousands of grouse can then be shot for ‘sport’.

“Driven grouse shooting is surrounded by a circle of destruction which is Scotland’s hidden shame. This cruelty and willful disregard for the environment and our wildlife needs to stop once and for all starting with a complete ban on all snares and traps.”



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