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In a PR exercise the Countryside Alliance argues that grouse shooting is beneficial

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The Countryside Alliance decided to fight back because currently there is a lot of negative discussion about shooting birds for pleasure which essentially is what grouse shooting is. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic has made people more sensitive towards our animal cousins. There is certainly a greater sensitivity about the environment in general. And animal welfare is ultimately about the environment because we live with them and share the planet with them. And if we damage the environment we damage animals.


Grouse. Photo in public domain.

Adrian Blackmore, is a director of shooting at the Countryside Alliance. He refers to a study by University of Northampton in which he claims that grouse shooting boosts nature and the rural economy and it has kept some vital communities afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Grouse shooting, he argues, forms part of a “complex web” of economic and social factors. These allow rural communities to survive and thrive in difficult times. He believes that anti-shooting campaigners are wrong when they disparage scientific studies showing the benefits of moorland management which is part of the grouse shooting industry. He said that heather burning encourages new heather shoots as well as creating a varied moorland habitat benefiting many rare species of ground-nesting birds.

Heather burning also helps to prevent wildfires. The Saddleworth fire occurred because it took place on moorland that is not managed for grouse, he states.

And he argues that the economic and social benefits of managing moorland spreads beyond their boundaries into upland communities. The business supports the wages of gamekeepers, publicans, beaters and the state managers plus supports suppliers such as sporting agents, lawyers and other workers.

I’m sure he’s right that grouse shooting is a good business which helps to support all the fringe businesses which are part of it. And I expect he is right in that it helps moorland as a habitat. But he failed to mention one important and fatal point which is that shooting grouse for pleasure is immoral. It is clearly unethical. It is a pastime which is passed it’s moment. It’s over or it should be. The world has moved on. We hope that the world is more civilised and able to treat wild animals in a more humane way.

It is clearly immoral to take pleasure from causing pain to animals. He could never deny that. He could never argue against it. This is the argument which fatally undermines his support for the business. And gamekeepers allegedly like to shoot or kill in any secretative way endangered birds of prey to protect their grouse.