The grouse season begins for 2014
As the grouse shooting season gets under way, England’s moorland owners are reported to have committed to spending £52.5 million on conservation and protecting critically endangered species. On the eve of the Glorious Twelfth, the Moorland Association (MA) held a day dedicated to the hen harrier, reiterating its plea to Defra to publish details of the joint recovery plan.
Recently, two hen harrier nests on a grouse moor in north Lancashire produced 11 chicks. ‘Careful game management [of moorland] has seen significant gains in at-risk species, such as the black grouse, merlin and lapwing,’ comments the MA’s chairman Robert Benson. He adds that, despite this summer’s excellent breeding conditions, only a handful of commercial shoots will break even due to conservation costs.
However, he predicts that associated spinoffs from an anticipated strong season will deliver in excess of £15 million to the shooting industry. ‘Without grouse moor management, many moors would revert to scrub and forest,’ he points out. ‘We’re working with Natural England on restoring blanket bog habitats which have been damaged by wildfires, overgrazing and historic drainage.’ BASC has produced an online guide to buying and cooking grouse; visit http://tasteofgame.org.uk/gloriousgrouse.
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