Labour calls for review of grouse shooting on eve of ‘glorious 12th’

Grouse moorland must be extensively managed for grouse shooting to work which means animals including foxes stoats and weasels are legally culled

Grouse moorland must be extensively managed for grouse shooting to work which means animals including foxes stoats and weasels are legally culled

The UK's grouse shooting season has officially begun, with mixed prospects as the industry recovers from a poor season previous year.

The proposed review would examine the economic and environmental impacts of driven grouse shooting, which sees the birds driven towards hunters by beaters and shot in flight.

Driven shooting involves a row of "beaters" walking and pushing out the birds, which can fly at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kmh), towards a line of about 10 shooters concealed in sunken butts spaced about 50 yards (45 metres) apart.

"Labour's call for a review appears to be a response to a campaign from celebrities and extreme animal rights campaigners", said the British Association for Shooting & Conservation, saying that numerous details from Labour were incorrect.

Grouse moors cover around 550,000 acres of land in in England and Scotland - an area bigger than Greater London.

They party argues that alternatives, such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism, should be considered instead.

Referring to the shooting season as the "Inglorious Twelfth", the party claims there is "extensive evidence" that grouse moors are "destroying huge swathes of plant life and killing many animals".

The moors are often burned, increasing the chance of wildfires and flooding and increasing carbon emissions.

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"The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties", said Sue Hayman, the shadow environment secretary.

And the party highlighted that bird of prey species such as hen harriers - which feed on grouse chicks - and mountain hares were often illegally culled.

But despite such damage, Labour said that the 10 largest English grouse moors received a total of £3 million in annual farm subsidies.

"For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it's our environment and our people who pay the price".

GAMEKEEPERS have defended grouse shooting following calls for a review into the practice.

"Effective heather management including burning and cutting creates fantastic habitat and of course reduces the fuel load and risk of wildfire".

The season runs for 16 weeks to December, drawing visitors from Europe and North America.

The government said that the moorland should be protected as a priority, and they would be working closely with farmers and landowners to come to agreements over how best to manage the land.

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