Closed petition Ban Driven Grouse Shooting Wilful blindness is no longer an option

Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery (Wild Justice) believe that intensive grouse shooting is bad for people, the environment and wildlife. People; grouse shooting is economically insignificant when contrasted with other real and potential uses of the UK’s uplands.

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Environment; muirburn impacts negatively upon climate change and drainage leads to flooding and erosion. Wildlife; the wholesale culling of all predators and Mountain Hares has a disastrous effect on the ecology of these areas and the industry is underpinned by a criminal tradition of raptor persecution which shows no signs of abating. It’s time to provide an opportunity to implement immediate , legislative and meaningful measures to address this abhorrently destructive practice.

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 September 2019

Grouse shooting is a legitimate activity providing benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation and investment in remote areas. Defra is working on the sustainable management of English uplands.

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

The Government appreciates that many people hold strong views on the issue of driven grouse shooting. The Government considers that shooting activities bring many benefits to the rural economy and can in many cases be beneficial for wildlife and habitat conservation. We recognise that it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected and the law is respected. We will continue work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation. The Government has no plans to ban grouse shooting.

Wild birds and other wild animals are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We have identified raptor persecution as a 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 Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) focuses on the golden eagle, goshawk, hen harrier, peregrine, red kite and white-tailed eagle. The group is working on developing tools to help tackle raptor persecution crimes.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit, which is part-funded by Defra, monitors and gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting raptors and assists police forces when required. Despite instances of poisoning and killing of birds of prey, populations of many species, such as the peregrine falcon, red kite and buzzard have increased. We are concerned that with respect to eliminating illegal bird of prey persecution, there are still individuals who continue to commit these crimes. We will work with all stakeholders to try to eradicate these crimes. Any evidence of crime should be presented to the local police force for their consideration.

Grouse shooting takes place in upland areas, which are important for delivering a range of valuable ecosystem services, including food, fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and recreational opportunities. UK uplands have 75% of the world’s remaining heather moorland and about 13% of the world’s blanket bog.

Seventy per cent of the UK’s drinking water is provided from upland catchments. The Government is committed to delivering positive environmental and economic benefits and creating a more sustainable future for the English uplands, including preserving and restoring peatlands through development of the UK Peatland Code; there is also funding of peatland restoration through Government-funded grants and private sector sponsorship. We will publish an England Peat Strategy later this year, setting out our vision for how our precious peatlands will be restored and protected.

Healthy, active peat provides good habitat for grouse as well as numerous environmental benefits and ecosystem services. Natural England is working with landowners of grouse moors to develop management agreements, which include vegetation management principles for the various habitats on grouse moors. These agreements aim to reverse habitat degradation and help landowners sustainably manage and restore upland peatland habitats. The Government encourages land managers to work closely with Natural England to put agreements in place for all the benefits they bring to moor owners and to the environment. The Government is working with moor owners and stakeholders to improve management practices and peat condition further through the Blanket Bog Restoration Strategy.

A report by the UK shooting community (Public & Corporate Economic Consultants report 2014: The Value of Shooting) concludes that the overall impact of game bird shooting is positive; the industry has estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities substantially benefiting conservation. The Moorland Association highlights that estates in England and Wales spent £52.5 million on managing 149 grouse moors for shooting in 2010. The industry supports 1,520 full time equivalent jobs and is worth £97.7 million across Great Britain.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.