Grouse moor management is out of control. It involves unacceptable levels of wildlife cruelty and persecution. It is time to say #NoMoorCruelty no more driven grouse shooting!
Up to almost a fifth of Scotland is a grouse moor, which is land that is managed for the shooting of red grouse for ‘fun’. Intensive grouse moor management is terrible for animal welfare and the environment. It is also rife with wildlife crime and is a poor use of Scotland’s land.
That is why we’re working with in a coalition, REVIVE, with several other social justice organisations to challenge the intensive management of Scotland’s uplands for grouse shooting.
Who are the victims of grouse shooting?
Grouse moors are managed by gamekeepers with the aim of maximising the number of grouse available to shoot. Driven grouse shooting involves a line of ‘beaters’ walking through the moor flushing out grouse to waiting shooters who have paid for the opportunity to shoot the birds. The bigger the ‘bag’ of dead grouse the more profit for the landowner.
But this brutal management regime also involves the persecution and local eradication of a wide range of wild animals that might otherwise predate on grouse.
Foxes are routinely snared on grouse moors. They may be lured into snares by the use of ‘stink pits’- piles of rotten animal corpses- positioned beside snares to lure the foxes into the track of the snare.
Magpies & crows
Magpies and crows are trapped in crow cage traps, which can catch up to multiple birds at any one time. A live ‘decoy’ bird will be placed inside the cage to attract the territorial corvids, who will come to the cage to challenge the ‘decoy’ bird.
Alternatively, a bird may be trapped by a Larsen trap, which is a smaller trap that is placed on the ground, but which still may contain a ‘decoy’ bird.
The killing of the birds is often brutal and prolonged, with the operator bludgeoning the multiple birds flying in panic around the cage.
Stoats & weasels
Stoats and weasels are trapped in spring traps, which are essentially just larger and more powerful mouse traps. The trap springs closed with enough force to hold, crush and kill the animal trapped inside it.
Illegal persecution of animals
In addition to the cruel persecution above, which is still perfectly legal, the illegal persecution of birds of prey such as hen harriers and golden eagles is also associated with intensive grouse moor management. These birds are usually killed by traps, poison or being shot.
As well as eradicating red grouse predators, maintaining red grouse in unnaturally high densities on the moors means grouse moor managers take a leaf from intensive farming and carry out preventative disease management. Medicated grit, for example, can be found throughout grouse moors and is used to reduce the incidence of parasitic worm.
Grouse shooting can either be ‘walked up’ or ‘driven’. Walked up shooting is the more traditional, yet also cruel, activity of walking a moor, seeking grouse and shooting and killing a small number of birds.
Driven grouse shooting, on the other hand, operates on a completely different scale. Shooters wait ready in a line, partially concealed in ‘grouse butts’. Beaters effectively round up the grouse and drive them towards the waiting guns. The objective on a driven grouse shoot is to kill as many grouse as possible.
What does REVIVE want?
REVIVE believes that significant reform of Scotland’s grouse moors should be in the manifesto of Scotland’s political parties. We want to see a transition away from driven grouse shooting. In the meantime, we want to see the Scottish Government commit to the following commitments:
- An end to the snaring, trapping and killing of Scotland’s wildlife for the purpose of increasing grouse numbers
- Protecting Scotland’s peatland by ending muirburn for the purpose of grouse moor management
- A ban on the use of medicated grit
- A change to the use of non-lead ammunition
- Regulation of off-road hill tracks
- Transformational land reform to be enacted on a national scale
- Licensing of all grouse moor estates
The REVIVE coalition includes the following groups: Common Weal, OneKind, Friends of the Earth Scotland, League Against Cruel Sports and Raptor Persecution UK
What are REVIVE’s achievements so far?
- We secured a ban on the mass scale mountain hare culls. Prior to the ban, an estimated 26,000 mountain hares were killed on Scotland’s grouse moors each year, as gamekeepers believed they carried a disease that could be transferred to red grouse.
- The Scottish Government committed to introducing a licensing scheme for grouse moors.
- We have produced several reports, including “Untold Suffering”, which explores the killing of wild animals on Scotland’s grouse moors, and is authored by OneKind.
Keep up to date with the ongoing work and successes of REVIVE here.