No 'licencing lifeline' for Grouse Moors

Grouse shooting is not a ‘glorious’ tradition. It is about death and destruction: the slaughter of up to half a million grouse a year, the killing of countless native predators in traps and snares, illegal raptor persecution, and the burning of internationally-scarce habitats.

All so that a few people can spend the day in our uplands and national parks ‘enjoying’ a hobby that epitomises an outdated mindset and is ethically inexcusable.

Rather than ban it outright (which is what Protect the Wild is working for), a halfway house is being increasingly touted as a way of controlling all this chaos and dead wildlife: licencing.


Why would licencing change anything?

Licencing will apparently involve a shoot obtaining an operational licence from a regulator which would have conditions attached mandating the shoot follows wildlife and environmental protection codes of practice and laws. Where there is evidence suggesting that a shoot has failed to follow those conditions the licence can be withdrawn, even if the evidence pointing to criminality is less than sufficient to merit criminal proceedings.

We understand why that appeals to some people, but legislation already exists which is meant to protect wildlife and the environment. It has failed because laws are ignored, and their enforcement is lax or non-existent.

No details have been put forward that demonstrates that enforcement will be stepped up or that estates or their employees will help investigators or the police to catch lawbreakers.

Besides the problems of enforcement, supporting licencing is essentially saying that it’s okay to kill up to 500,000 Red Grouse every year for ‘sport’. We don’t agree. That is not okay at all.

Licencing also legitimises the ‘legal’ killing of countless numbers of foxes, corvids, stoats/weasels, and other native animals by gamekeepers on grouse shooting estates. There is no concurrent obligation to carry out ecological assessments. There are no checks and balances. Predators are simply assumed to impact shooting’s profits which is why moorlands are run the way they are and why illegal raptor persecution is so widespread.

Having killed millions upon millions of grouse over the last two hundred years, having committed wildlife crimes for decades, and having routinely set fire to internationally-important carbon-storing peatlands, estate owners are now going to be offered licences that not only permit all this slaughter and habitat destruction but officially sanctions it.

Licencing grouse shooting estates is not the answer to all the problems they cause. Shutting them down is.

That’s never been so achievable. Thanks to the hard work of campaigners across the UK the damage grouse shooting causes is increasingly understood by the general public. It is an anachronism with few supporters. Destructive, but not indestructible.

Once grouse shooting has been licenced by government, it will be even more difficult to get rid of it. Handing it a ‘licencing lifeline’ now makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

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Shooting Petitions and Demands

Add pheasants to
Alien Species Order
Ban shooting of
Red-listed birds
No public subsidy of
Shotgun Licenses
No grouse moor
'Licensing Lifeline'
Register all animals
Trapped or Snared