Scottish Greens describe grouse shooting as ‘festival of violence’

The barbaric grouse shooting season began on 12 August, the ‘Inglorious 12th’. The Scottish Green Party has sent a clear message to gamekeepers and wealthy shooters that the blood sport is not welcome in Scotland.

The Scottish Greens’ rural affairs minister, Ariane Burgess MSP, didn’t mince her words when she said:

“There is nothing glorious or humane about the 12th of August. It is a festival of violence. Far too much of our land is given to this cruel and outdated hobby.”

She continued:

“The intensive burning and degradation of our landscapes to try and improve the habitat for red grouse so that there are more of them to be shot is unnecessary, and damages the local environment and our climate.”


Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill

The Scottish government’s Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill is in its first stage, and when passed will, among other things, introduce a licencing scheme for shooting Red Grouse. The Bill states that this will:

“require the landowner to have a licence to allow hunting on their land, and introduces a code of practice for managing that land.”

On top of this, the Bill will restrict the burning of heather moorland, known as muirburn. If the Bill passes:

“people will need a licence to undertake muirburn at any point in the year. There would be different requirements depending on the time of year and whether the muirburn is taking place on peatland or not.”

(England has separate regulations on burning – see our Protectors page  > The Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021)


Murdered birds of prey

The Scottish Greens argue:

“These measures are a necessary response to incidents of illegal persecution of Scotland’s iconic birds of prey, such as golden eagle, which have occurred on or near to grouse moors over several years.”

Indeed, a Golden Eagle was found dead on 11 February on the Queensberry Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, southern Scotland. The cause of the eagle’s death was inconclusive. This wasn’t the first time a bird of prey had been killed on the grouse shooting estate.

Birds of prey are often poisoned with bendiocarb in the UK. The raptors feed on poisoned baits – often pheasant or rabbit carcasses – left (in most cases) by gamekeepers.

Protect the Wild regularly covers stories of raptors mysteriously disappearing in the UK, too. On 18 August, just six days after the beginning of grouse shooting season, the RSPB stated that three Hen Harriers had ‘vanished’ on grouse moors in northern England. A Red Listed species and fully protected in law, the total number of Hen Harriers confirmed killed or missing in the UK since just 2018 now stands at 101.


Scottish shooting industry on its knees

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), meanwhile, is running scared. It has warned the government that “the profession stands at a critical juncture”. Gamekeeper jobs are being lost on estates, and the SGA blames, among other factors, the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill.  The SGA’s Alex Hogg argued:

“While some places may have taken on the odd part-time staff member, the trend is clear and that is very worrying. Gamekeepers have been part of Scotland’s cultural heritage for centuries.

The Government needs to understand the seriousness and work with us to protect these positions, not dismantle everything.”

It is unsurprising that Hogg is trying to portray the barbaric blood sport as part of a quaint Scottish heritage that needs to be preserved. We see hunters and shooters attempting to change the image around blood sports time and time again by using terms such as ‘conservation’ or ‘tradition’.


grouse shooting


We need a proper ban on grouse shooting

While Scotland is, once again, ahead of England and Wales when tackling shooting and hunting, Protect the Wild believes that licencing the grouse shooting industry is the wrong answer. We go further than both the Green Party and the RSPB, and we argue that the whole disgusting industry needs to be shut down once and for all.

Licencing the industry legitimises it. It officially gives the UK’s wealthiest people the go-ahead to murder hundreds of thousands of grouse every year. Furthermore, licencing will not prevent gamekeepers from murdering corvids, weasels, foxes and other beings, who get caught in traps and snares. And it will not prevent birds of prey from being poisoned or disappeared: after all, we already have laws that protect these beautiful birds, and yet they are still losing their lives, while grouse estates seem to have total impunity.

  • Join us to campaign for a total ban on grouse shooting. You can read more about why we argue that licencing is not the answer here. And you can support us to end shooting once and for all here.



We can all help tackle crimes against Birds of Prey by learning how to Recognise, Record, and Report them. Please see our Protectors of the Wild page > Birds of Prey and the Law.