The value of grouse shooting to rural communities has been clearly recognised by both Scottish and UK governments despite attempts to undermine the industry, the Scottish Moorland Group said today.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee took evidence at Westminster today on a petition raised in an attempt to ban driven grouse shooting in England and Wales.
Following the evidence session on grouse shooing held today, Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “This latest attempt to ban driven grouse shooting in England and Wales would – if successful – would have a wide-ranging and detrimental impact on communities in Scotland and it is fundamentally flawed.
“We very much welcome the positions stated recently by both the UK and Scottish Governments which support the continuation of grouse shooting. There is significant movement of skilled labour between Scotland and England which provides opportunities for training and career progression in gamekeeping. Many of those working in grouse shooting in Scotland have been trained south of the border and vice versa.
“Grouse shooting is a vital sector in Scotland’s rural economy, directly supporting more than 2,500 jobs in our countryside and also helping to sustain employment in a range of other professions and the suggestions we heard today from those advocating a ban that shooting causes an ‘economic deficit’ are absurd.”
Tim Baynes continued: “The issue of Hen Harriers and grouse moors existing side by side is one that is long-running and the centre of much debate. What is certain, however, is that removing grouse moor management is not the way to resolve any conflicts.
“This is a complex situation which needs a balanced solution. In Scotland, we have seen a much greater focus on collaborative initiatives such as “Heads Up For Harriers”, the “South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project” and the “East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership” which all focus directly on raptor conservation.
“The illegal killing of birds of prey is to be condemned out of hand but the extent of it should be assessed accurately and any response to that should be proportionate. As in any other profession or walk of life, where people break the law then it is to be condemned and should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“Grouse shooting is a legal and legitimate land management operation providing significant economic, social and environmental benefits that should be supported. Banning driven grouse shooting itself is a completely disproportionate response to raptor persecution.
“Rather than talk of bans or licensing, the focus must be on delivering collaboration that can see Harriers and other species continue side by side with moorland management. It can be delivered if all stakeholders want to make it work.”