Again another delayed article, but a reminder of the atrocity of grouse shooting season is something which can be discussed and fought against any time. Firstly apologies for the awful formatting. Not my fault, I have tried for some considerable time to sort it out and it seems that this all too common wordpress glitch will not resolve.
When I was twelve, I went hunting with my father and we shot a bird. He was laying there and something struck me. Why do we call this fun to kill this creature [who] was as happy as I was when I woke up this morning.
At the beginning of August my husband and I were in the Yorkshire Dales which is very beautiful at this time of year as the hills are covered with purple heather. All very tranquil except for the sound of gunfire.
The problem is that about the same time of year the four-month long shooting season begins where a small minority of very wealthy people go out onto the moors to shoot grouse. Grouse are tiny birds like the one below who has been shot down from the sky for no other reason than sadistic pleasure. These birds are bread on the moors for this purpose – more about this later. During August to December they are shot in their thousands, in 2012, 700,000 red grouse were killed during the season
, as day after day shooters use them as live targets.
The Yorkshire Dales of course is not the only locality that provides this obscene form of pleasure to the elite minority, other locations include the Durham Dales, the Yorkshire Moors, Exmoor, in fact any area that has heather moorland. Throughout the UK since the mid 1800s many areas of heather have been carefully managed to provide grouse for shooting.
Indeed there is a dark side to the breathtaking splendor of the heather covered hillsides that so many of us admire and that is, the… heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment.
My family and I have enjoyed this breathtaking scenery for many years without knowing the disturbing reasons for its existence.
A return trip to the dales in late September and the situation was even worse with three shooting parties in close proximity.
The three shooting parties where in short distance from one another and many many birds who were once enjoying the beautiful windy day were shot from the sky for the pleasure of these over privileged psychopaths. I did tell one group what I thought of them along the lines of “you murdering bastards, cowards shooting tiny defenceless birds”. Yes I know I often say that verbal abuse does little good but…well… I get angry, so angry. It is depressing, and frustrating knowing that there is nothing I could do to stop this as this country (UK) allows the annual barbaric slaughter of these innocent helpless birds. It’s all about money and abhorrent pleasure, shooting parties are charged as much as £10,000 per trip just to shoot these tiny birds. Like many of the awful things that happen in the world it is I fear the acquisition of wealth for the minority that perpetuates this atrocity. Vast acres of this beautiful landscape are managed in order to accommodate this barbaric pleasure. Notices displayed all over the hills at the commencement of footpaths tell people not to disturb ground nesting birds or in the case of the notice below not to allow dogs except on public footpaths. No not for the welfare of the birds but so that there are more birds for these wicked people to kill every year.
The Yorkshire dales is a popular place for hikers, people like to walk in the hills, myself included, and it is awful to suddenly come across these shooting parties. This aspect of grouse shooting is rarely considered.
The locals accept this blatant cruelty as a way of life, just the way things are and even make light of it. In a local tea room a notice says something a long the lines of: ” It is grouse season, be careful to duck! Relax with a nice soothing cup of tea.
This day in September was a glorious day with sun wind and even a little rain with rainbows but all this was spoiled by the sound of gunfire.
The Yorkshire Dales is a peaceful place and very scenic until you become aware of the awful things that take place there to animals. The shooting season lasts from August 12th until mid December, so for four months of the year these helpless birds are shot down from the skies, walkers and other visitors to the dales are more than likely to meet up with a shooting party and even if you just drive through, stop for a picnic or admire the view you are likely to be confronted by the sound of gun fire and see men – well it is still mostly men- approaching carrying dead grouse.
I loath this time of year in the dales, when you can hear gun shots you know that birds are being killed for no reason other than the perverted pleasure of the over privileged.
Why, why do we allow this barbaric practice to continue. It is a fact the majority of the population oppose grouse shooting, yet it remains.
There has been a recent petition concerning grouse shooting which gained 125,76 signatures, the number required to force a debate in parliament:
Ban driven grouse shooting
Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers.
Driven grouse shooting uses animals for live target practice, with thousands killed every day. Native predators are killed because they eat Red Grouse. Mountain Hares are killed because they carry ticks that can spread diseases to grouse. Heather is burned to increase Red Grouse numbers for shooting. Grouse shooting is economically, ecologically and socially unnecessary. This is ‘canned hunting’.
The above petition by Scientist Dr Mark Avery supported by the League against Cruel Sport and wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham aimed to bring an end to this barbarity.
Prior to the debate a committee met on October 18th to consider evidence, the Committee wanted the House of Commons to have the chance to hear evidence on this issue. This is supposed to inform MPs taking part in the House of Commons debate.
Signatories of petitions were invited to share their expertise on the subject.
In particular, the Committee welcomed contributions on the following points:-
“Should the law on grouse shooting be changed? If so, how?
– What effect does grouse shooting have on wildlife and the environment?
– What role does grouse shooting play in rural life, especially the rural
You can read Mark Avery’s written evidence and also the evidence of the RSPB, Countryside Alliance and
The debate took place on October 31st.
You can watch this online :
I am sure that it will come as no surprise that the government rejected the petition’s call for a grouse shooting ban. Sadly we remain an uncivilised country that allows its citizens to wantonly take the lives of members of another species for pleasure and profit and simply because they can. The progress it seems towards a more ethical society has taken another step backwards, a sad day for all who worked tirelessly, all who signed the petition and a sad day also for the grouse who are shot out of the sky as living targets in a barbaric so-called sport that should now be consigned to history.
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow-creatures is amusing in itself.
The issue of morality
In addition to the sound arguments against grouse shooting – such as the intensive habitat management required, which is responsible for damaging protected wildlife sites, increased water pollution, flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions – there is an even more important consideration: morality. Yet there is no mention included in the points of evidence to be considered of the ethics of killing thousands of living beings simply to fulfill some perverted pass-time of the well shod.
It is surely deeply immoral to use live animals as targets, yet morality is rarely considered in any debate concerning grouse shooting or pheasant shooting which commenced in October.
Yes I of course realise that nothing would change on the basis of morality as a stand alone argument, the rights and wrongs of killing another living being for the purpose of pleasure would sadly not alone hold any weight in such a debate, yet this issue is surely one of the most important.
Concerning the Countryside Allowances’ now familiar argument
- For many upland communities, grouse shooting plays a pivotal role in the local economy, providing a valuable source of jobs and income for local businesses. It also underpins the social life of these communities and helps to tackle rural isolation.
The same could surely be said of just about any of the grave social injustices both past and present and the ongoing exploitation of most of the species on the planet including our own that the continuation of these abuses are important to local economies, employment and social life. I am particularly amused by the rural isolation argument which is just so ludicrous as there are few places here in the UK which are really that isolated and even if they were the influx of a relatively small number of people for three months each year would have little impact and in my opinion does not justify the slaughter of thousands of birds.
Here is more information.
Below is an account of a driven grouse shooting moor in the UK
The chilly air chaps your cheeks as your boots rustle through the heather – and when you reach the top of the hill, you can see for miles.
Stretched out all around you is moorland. Open, treeless, with not a house or farm in sight.
It looks and feels wild, so you should expect to be able to see plenty of wildlife . But there is nothing, it’s silent and still, it’s eerie.
Then you pass a log lying over a little stream. On it, inside a metal cage, is a trap and in its jaws are the smashed and tangled remains of a stoat, its eyes squeezed from their sockets, its mouth locked open in a grimace of terminal pain.
Before that, you had stood holding your nose at the side of a gamekeeper’s “stink pit”, gazing in disbelief at the rotting bodies of foxes , crows, magpies, all mouldering in a vile mess of feathers, fur and flesh and bone.
And then through your binoculars, you spot something. It’s a bird, flapping furiously, battering itself against a post. It is hanging with its feet clamped in a trap.
When you get closer, you can see its bent and bloody legs, its long black-tipped grey wings and its frayed tail. It is a male hen harrier and it has been caught in a pole trap. It will die a long, painful death.
All this so the birds of prey and natural predators won’t harm grouse – birds that have been bred and reared to be shot for pleasure.
Ban grouse shooting – it’s cruel, harms the environment and we’re all paying for it
More Grouse Shooting Facts
“100,000 birds killed every day during the shooting season, the senseless massacre of wildlife on a massive scale, dubious financial claims and significant animal welfare abuses – our new report – “The Case Against Bird Shooting” – exposes the true nature of commercial shooting. This is Britain’s canned hunting industry.”
The true face of Driven Grouse shooting
“Intensive grouse shooting depends on wildlife crime – protected raptors have to be killed in order for the big ‘bags’ of Red Grouse to be possible. Even if a particular grouse moor does not kill protected raptors, they will benefit if other grouse moors, near and far, do so. Intensive grouse shooting is underpinned by wildlife crime.“
Another immorality is that this cruel practice is subsidised by the tax payers, most of whom do not support this barbaric so-called sport. Grouse shooting is supported to the tune of 17 million pounds which is paid to landowners and farmers, people who are already wealthy and who will accrue even more wealth as a result of the business of grouse shooting.
In addition to grouse shooting being heavily subsidised by the tax payer, it involves wildlife crime as already mentioned as the grouse’s natural predators including protected species such as peregrine falcons, golden eagles, red kites and hen harriers are killed to maintain the vast numbers of grouse required for shooting. In England, the hen harrier remains critically endangered and on the verge of extinction as a result of persecution on grouse moors
Also the following animals are killed in large numbers: mountain hares, weasels, stoats, magpies, crows, foxes, badgers, rats, even squirrels and many more. As discussed earlier the land is intensively managed by burning and draining to create a monoculture of the heather the birds eat. This releases the carbon in the soil, pollutes rivers and helps to flood the towns downstream.
“But through the efforts of wildlife campaigners (like Packham and the RSPB) and people whose homes have been flooded downstream, the grouse industry is now being called to account”
Watch the real Price of Grouse: Subsidies
While 17 million is spent on subsidises for the rich to indulge their cruel sport councils throughout the country face as much as a 40 per cent cut back in government funding . As a consequence vital services such as lollipop men and women are cut with the result of a loss of their jobs and children are consequently put at risk as a result.
As a result of government funding cuts Newcastle council are considering axing school crossing patrols.
Getting rid of the 53 lollipop men and women would save more than £200,000.
Other areas of the Labour-run authority also face big cuts, including £4m from children’s services, and more than £11m from adult social care, as well as the city’s community and information hubs.
Social care cuts take English service to tipping point, regulator warns
Newcastle is of course not the only council affected by government cuts which forces them to make cut backs to vital public services. While millions of the tax payer money is spent subsidising the “sport of kings “(grouse shooting) our services are cut. Grouse shooting is referred to as the “sport of kings” as it is only the wealthy elite who can afford to participate. Yet this is subsidised at the expense of poor people.
Cut backs are also affecting the NHS
Schools also suffer as a result of cuts by the government
Most of the land in the Yorkshire Dales is managed to encourage the numbers of grouse to increase, this is many many acres of land. The following blog provides a good assessment as to what goes on behind the scenic facade that people enjoy all the year round, including hunting, shooting and sheep farming,
A vegan’s observations in the Yorkshire Dales
The UK can never claim to be a civilised country while it allows people to use live animals as target practice. I had hoped that this debate would bring us closer to a more modern nation which respects the lives of the other beings who inhabit our beautiful countryside.
Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I’ve finished “shooting,” my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy. I have developed a deep respect for animals. I consider them fellow living creatures with certain rights that should not be violated any more than those of humans.
Grouse shooting estates shored up by millions in subsidies
Common agricultural policy money given to estates in England, including one owned by the Duke of Westminster, the richest landowner in Britain with land holdings estimated to be worth £9bn