If you read the papers and believed some of the wildlife-crime reports, you might be under the impression that there is barely a bird-of-prey left on a grouse moor.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A well run grouse moor attracts raptors like bees to a honey pot. When shooting recently, I saw peregrines, harriers, sparrow hawks and a red kite. I missed spotting the eagle.
Landowners should be congratulated for creating a habitat that is ideal for both grouse and raptors at the cost of often hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. However, a balance needs to be met between grouse and the raptors that prey on them for this investment to continue. Without a balance, the raptors will reduce the numbers of grouse to a level that is unsustainable, at which point, the moor will be abandoned, to the detriment of grouse, raptors and the local community.
Protection has been necessary to increase our bird-of prey numbers from, in some cases, almost extinction; now, we need to find a consensus on a suitable balance between grouse and raptors to guarantee a future for all the birds of our man-managed wild moors.