This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government

Petition 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.

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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'.

Supported by Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO of League Against Cruel Sports, Chris Packham and Bill Oddie.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

123,077 signatures

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 31 October 2016

Government responded

This response was given on 21 April 2016

Defra is working with key interested parties to ensure the sustainable management of uplands, balancing environmental and economic benefits, which includes the role of sustainable grouse shooting.

Read the response in full

When carried out according to the law, grouse shooting is a legitimate activity and in addition to its significant economic contribution, providing jobs and investment in some of our most remote areas, it can offer important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation. The Government’s position is that people should be free to undertake any lawful activities. However, all those involved are encouraged to follow best practice.

A report by the UK shooting community (Public & Corporate Economic Consultants report 2014: The Value of Shooting) concludes that the overall environmental and economic impact of game bird shooting is positive, and industry has estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities substantially benefiting conservation. For grouse shooting in particular, according to the Moorland Association, estates in England and Wales spend £52.5 million each year on managing 175 grouse moors. The industry also supports 1,520 full time equivalent jobs and is worth £67.7 million in England and Wales.

Grouse shooting takes place in upland areas, which are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing. The Government is committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, including by protecting peatlands through measures such as the Peatland Code.

With regard to predator control, we welcome the proactive approach taken by game keeping organisations to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation, for example through the BASC green shoots initiative. Control of grouse predators such as foxes and stoats on shooting estates has a role to play in the recovery of rare or declining species, particularly ground nesting birds. Mountain hares and other tick carrying species such as deer are controlled to reduce disease mortality in infected red grouse chicks. We also recognize that controlling mountain hares and deer is a legitimate practice in other circumstances: for example, to protect young trees and vegetation or as quarry species.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 affords protection to all wild birds; despite this, incidents of illegal killing of birds of prey continue, so we have identified raptor persecution as a national wildlife crime priority. Each wildlife crime priority has a delivery group to consider what action should be taken, and develop a plan to prevent crime, gather intelligence on offences and enforce against it. The raptor persecution group, led by a senior police officer, focuses on the golden eagle, goshawk, hen harrier, peregrine, red kite and white tailed eagle and is led by a senior police officer.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit, which is part-funded by Defra, monitors and gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey and assists police forces when required. Despite instances of poisoning and killing of birds of prey, populations of many species, such as the peregrine, red kite and buzzard have increased.

With regard to hen harriers, in January 2016 the Defra led Upland Stakeholder Forum hen harrier sub-group published the Joint action plan to increase the English hen harrier population. This sets out six complementary actions to increase hen harrier populations in England. These actions are individually beneficial, and when combined have the potential to deliver stronger outcomes and contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier population in England. These are:

1: Monitoring of populations in England and UK

2: Diversionary feeding

3: Work with Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) to analyse monitoring information and build intelligence picture

4: Nest and winter roost protection

5: Southern reintroduction

6: Trialling a Brood Management Scheme

The Action Plan sets out who leads on each action and the timescale and benefits of each. The plan was developed with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action, including Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Parks England and the RSPB. These organisations will now take the plan forward led by Natural England. They will monitor all the activities carried out and report annually on progress to the Defra Uplands Stakeholder Forum and the UK Tasking and Co-ordinating group for Wildlife Crime.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

MPs to hear evidence on driven grouse shooting before scheduling a petition debate

The Petitions Committee has agreed to schedule a debate on this petition.

Before setting a date for the debate, the Committee would like the House of Commons to have the chance to hear evidence on this issue. This will help to inform MPs taking part in the House of Commons debate.

More details about this will be announced in due course. We will keep you informed about what is happening and how you can get involved.

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs. It is independent from Government. You can find out more about the Committee on its website:

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions

MPs to hear evidence on driven grouse shooting on 18 October 2016

We recently told you that the Petitions Committee decided that MPs should have the chance to hear evidence on grouse shooting before they debate this petition.

What is happening:

On Tuesday 18 October at 2.15pm, MPs will hear from Mark Avery, the petition creator, and representatives from the RSPB, the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance.

You can watch the session on Parliament TV:

You can find out more information on the Petitions Committee website:

The transcript of what is said will help inform MPs taking part in the House of Commons debate. We will let you know the date of the debate as soon as it has been decided.

Get involved:

The Committee also welcomes written contributions from people who
want to share their expertise on this subject. In particular, the Committee
would welcome 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 economy?

The deadline for submissions is 5 October.

You can find out more and submit your contributions on the inquiry page:

The written submissions will be used to help inform the Committee session.

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs. It is independent from Government. You can find out more about the Committee on its website:

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions