Scottish Government urged to ban animal killings on grouse moors

The Scottish Government has been asked to end the “cruel and unnecessary” killing of animals on grouse moors by a coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups. The groups claim that hundreds of thousands of animals, including foxes, stoats, weasels, crows and mountain hares, are killed every year to protect the interests of the grouse shooting industry.

The case against grouse moors

The coalition, which includes OneKind, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, Revive and Animal Aid, has launched a campaign called “Ban the Burn, End the Slaughter” to highlight the negative impacts of grouse moors on wildlife, biodiversity, climate and animal welfare. The campaign is supported by a new report, which reveals that:

  • Up to a quarter of a million animals are killed every year on Scottish grouse moors, using traps, snares, poisons and guns. These animals are considered “pests” or “predators” by the grouse industry, but they are vital for the health and balance of the ecosystem.
  • Grouse moors cover about 12% of Scotland’s land area, but they are managed intensively to create a monoculture of heather for the sole purpose of producing large numbers of red grouse for shooting. This involves burning large areas of heather, which releases carbon dioxide, destroys peatlands, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk.
  • Grouse shooting is a hobby for a wealthy minority, who pay thousands of pounds to shoot dozens of birds in a single day. The industry is heavily subsidised by taxpayers, receiving millions of pounds in public grants and tax breaks every year. The economic benefits of grouse shooting are questionable, as it provides few jobs and relies on cheap labour and volunteers.

The case for grouse moors

The grouse shooting industry defends its practices, arguing that they are beneficial for the rural economy, the conservation of red grouse and other wildlife, and the management of the landscape. The industry claims that:

Scottish Government urged to ban animal killings on grouse moors

  • Grouse shooting contributes £155 million to the Scottish economy every year, supporting 2,640 full-time equivalent jobs and providing income for rural communities. The industry also generates tourism and attracts visitors to Scotland.
  • Grouse moors provide a habitat for red grouse, which are a native and iconic species of Scotland. The industry also supports the conservation of other species, such as golden eagles, black grouse, curlews and lapwings, by controlling predators and providing food and shelter.
  • Grouse moors are part of Scotland’s cultural heritage and landscape, and they are managed in a sustainable and responsible way. The industry follows best practice guidelines and codes of conduct, and works with regulators and stakeholders to minimise environmental impacts and improve animal welfare.

The call for action

The coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups is calling on the Scottish Government to ban the killing of animals on grouse moors, and to introduce a licensing system for grouse shooting, with strict conditions and sanctions for breaches. The coalition also wants the Scottish Government to end the public subsidies and tax breaks for the grouse industry, and to support the transition to alternative land uses, such as rewilding, ecotourism and renewable energy.

The coalition has launched a petition, which has already gathered over 10,000 signatures, and is urging the public to contact their MSPs and ask them to support the campaign. The coalition hopes that the Scottish Government will take action before the start of the next grouse shooting season, which begins on 12 August.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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