The following letter from the Countryside Alliance was published in The Yorkshire Post on Monday 29th October 2018 in response to this article – GP Taylor: Grouse shooting must be banned – these incredible creatures cannot be lost so as to please a handful of tweed-clad toffs.

Challenging grouse moor accusations

From: Adrian Blackmore
Director of Shooting, Countryside Alliance

Sir, G.P Taylor’s opinion piece on why grouse shooting should be banned (Wednesday 24 October) contains blatant misinformation that cannot go unchallenged.

Grouse moor managers are not clearing out moorland drains. Quite the opposite. They have been embracing a number of projects that include revegetation of bare peat, and the blocking of drains both to raise water tables and encourage the growth of sphagnum moss which slows the flow of surface water and filter out any discoloration. These, along with restoration burning and cutting of heather are key elements of Defra’s Blanket Bog Restoration Strategy, the aim of which is to create a wetter and healthier environment.

It is thanks to this on-going management that more than 60% of England’s upland Sites of Special Scientific Interest are managed grouse moors, and over 40% are also designated Special Protection Areas for rare birds, and Special Areas of Conservation for rare vegetation. Why Mr Taylor should regard this management as having a catastrophic effect on the environment and wildlife is unclear, as studies have also shown that many threatened species of waders are up to five times more abundant on moors managed for red grouse and that, thanks to the predator control that is carried out, birds such as the curlew and lapwing, both of which are species of the highest conservation concern, are 3.5 times more likely to raise a chick to fledging.

There are 175 grouse moors in England and Wales, accounting for just 1/5 of our uplands, and each year £52.5 million is spent on their management, 90 percent of which is privately invested. They are not being sponsored by the tax payer. The economic benefits that the sport brings to remote rural communities have also been questioned. The associated spin-offs from grouse shooting in the North of England  are worth in excess of £15 million a year. It is responsible for 1,520 full time posts, 700 of which are directly involved in grouse moor management, with a further 820 jobs in related services and industries. An average of 50 casual employees are also involved in each shoot day, an important source of income to many. The benefits are therefore considerable, and although any alternative to the status quo would, at best, need to be as environmentally, economically and socially beneficial as those currently being enjoyed by so many, no viable proposal has yet been put forward.