The melee surrounding the Glorious 12th is over for another year. The 12th brings out the very worst in the antis; they take to the internet like breeding waders to a well-managed moor. They swamp social media with stories and pictures placing grouse shooting in a bad light, many of which are completely fake.
The Glorious 12th is a free for all for spreading false facts and figures in an attempt to win support and pile pressure on the decision makers in Parliament and across the devolved administrations. The frenzy is driven by organisations like the League Against Cruel Sports, themselves often guilty of spreading misinformation on wildlife management issues. Much like fox hunting, grouse shooting is a hot topic for the media. The Countryside Alliance, and our partner organisations, are heavily involved in fighting these false claims and making sure the public are given a fair account of the management work that goes on in the uplands, and in doing this we share numerous positive stories.
Many of the positive stories we share have come from the highly impressive moorland groups that have been set up over the past few years. These groups enable upland communities to highlight and celebrate the spirit and cohesiveness that grouse shooting can bring to the rural landscape. The initiative publicises and promotes the work that the gamekeepers and their families and friends do to great effect. The last few years have seen local and national stories about gamekeepers helping environmental agencies deal with flooding, clearing fallen trees from roads, helping lost ramblers, working alongside firefighters to deal with wildfires; the list goes on. Their hard work in fundraising for local charities has set a top-class example to others.
Through promotion of the moorland groups’ work we can start to paint a picture of everything that would be lost if grouse shooting were restricted or banned. For those living in these communities grouse shooting is the life blood that connects everyone and everything. If you live in the uplands we highly recommend getting in touch with your local group to see how you can help.
A worrying development for this Glorious 12th was the reports that a couple of grouse moors were hit by saboteurs, an issue that the Countryside Alliance raised ahead of the big day and one in which we have a great deal of experience. Whilst the saboteurs rejoiced in their success of disrupting two shoots, we have turned the event into a positive. The saboteurs, who were dressed in black and wearing face masks, provided us with the opportunity to remind Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners in the affected areas that police now have increased powers to remove face coverings, as a result of campaigning by the Countryside Alliance, and that by disrupting a legal activity on private land saboteurs face the criminal charge of aggravated trespass.
Thankfully the saboteurs appeared interested in only one day’s work, and have been quiet ever since. It is important that if you or your shoot is ever targeted by saboteurs to make sure you alert the Countryside Alliance on firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile we will continue to make sure the police are aware of the powers they have to deal with those who wish to disrupt legal activities.
This article first appeared in Countrymans Weekly, in which the Countryside Alliance has a weekly column.
The team at Eagle Review, the sporting equivalent of TripAdvisor, went to the beautiful Whitfield Estate in Northumberland to film an atmospheric piece on grouse shooting. The four minute film shows a day in the field and the roles played by the guns, flankers, beaters, pickers up and loaders – as well as the gun dogs, and viewers will be able to appreciate the role shooting plays in the local area, as well as the simple enjoyment of a day on the moor. Watch the film here and find out more about Eagle Review here.
The film gets across all that is great about driven grouse shooting, a sport that is unique to the United Kingdom and the envy of shooters around the World. Filmed by Andrea Cavaglia, ‘Flying with Grouse’ has been described by some as “One of the best videos about grouse shooting”: In addition to the Whitfield Estate using the film for its own publicity, it is on the Eagle Review website which now has almost 3 million international visitors, a great shop window for any estate.