Barney White-Spunner’s comment piece in the Daily Telegraph: “The glorious benefits of the noble grouse”. On 12th August the Daily Telegraph published a comment piece by Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner in which he wrote: “The glorious benefits of the noble grouse. Shoots are criticised but the Glorious Twelfth can show how managed moors bring ‘real conservation’……. there is a host of evidence that the habitat management and predator control carried out by upland keepers has huge benefits for other species. Lapwing, curlew, golden plover and snipe, as well as the threatened black grouse, still thrive on grouse moors and breed more successfully than they do on moorland managed by organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This is real conservation.”
Barney went on to write: “The current “controversy” is over conflicts between grouse shooting and the hen harrier, which was persecuted to extinction on the UK mainland in the 20th century but now numbers somewhere over 600 pairs. It is neither popular nor populous on grouse moors and the allegation is that hen harriers are killed by keepers.
“The RSPB has also attacked the burning of heather, which is vital to grouse moor management, claiming that it damages habitat and contributes towards global warming.
“Even if these criticisms are correct (and that is hotly debated) their impact should be measured in relation to the many benefits that grouse shooting brings. Some people, however, will never be able to bring themselves to carry out that calculation, simply because it involves rich people at play.
“The management of the uplands, like the killing of foxes, is becoming a battleground for class warriors, a battle that puts at risk some of the most vulnerable species and communities in the countryside.”