POLL: Should the Slaughter of Grouse be allowed to continue?

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More than 50 million game birds a year are being released for shooting, putting increasing strain on native wild birds and the ecology of the UK’s countryside, landowners will be warned on Friday.

As management of driven moors intensifies, the shooting industry must take responsibility for the impact their industry has on biodiversity and the natural environment, RSPB chief executive Dr Mike Clarke will say.

In a speech to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) ahead of the so-called “Glorious Twelfth” – the annual 12 August official opening of the grouse shooting season – Clarke will highlight shooting management practices “of real concern”, and tell the industry it must take more responsibility for these issues.


“There are two key trends in particular. First, is the continuing increase in game birds released into the environment, now well over 50 million birds a year.

“It is ecologically naive (at best) to think that you can introduce this amount of biomass – of a similar magnitude to the biomass of all the wild birds in the countryside – without any impact on native species populations and food webs,” he will say.

“Secondly, there is a marked increase in the intensity of management on some driven grouse moors in the uplands, especially in England. As many of us know, our uplands are some of the most iconic landscapes, both for services they give people – such as water and as a carbon store – and for wildlife.”

Clarke highlights the extent of the practice of rotational heather burning on grouse moors, widely used to increase the number of red grouse available for recreational shooting.

He also draws attention to the plight of the hen harrier, a species now absent from vast swathes of English uplands. The disappearance of five male hen harriers in unusual circumstances earlier this year has led to investigations by several police authorities.

While the RSPB does not support current calls for a ban on driven grouse shooting, “the longer it takes any industry to address its problems, the stronger those calls will become,” Clarke will say.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 31 Jul 2015.

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Graham Shepherd

They kill hen harriers, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, buzzards, white hares, then they kill the grouse.
Then they go home to their families like war heroes.

Brenda Robinson

This bird is endangered.

Rose Rees

Stop killing animals and birds for "fun" or "sport"! Barbaric and outdated. Please please if we all tried to focus on conservation our children and their children may be able to experience seeing these beautiful creatures in real life in the future ?

Araminta Autumn Ede

No animals deserves to be hunted for the enjoyment or sustenance of humans!!


Releasing a flock into an existing grouse area puts the entire species at risk. Re-think and act responsibly .

Paula Rock

The slaughter of any species should not take place.

Hazel Earl

No indeed it should not. Extreme cruelty . Completely wrong

Jules Badger

No animal should be killed, especially for sport

Dcaldecott Dcaldecott

I hunted for yrs, we were limited on # of birds taken daily& I might add everything we shot we ate, U are right when that many birds are released into & area there is no doubt it will have & effect on the bio deversity of a given area. I also find that we have reached a point in time that respect of the wildlife from Big Game down has gone to far & needs major evaluation on our whole sale slaughter of the Animals that make this planet what it is, For without the Animals we have sowen… Read more »

Alan Petrie

No it should not and our uplands should be restored to their natural habitat not 'managed' for the sake of one species at the expense of many others such as hen harriers.

Linda French

The modern world has evolved or at least some of us have. For those that continue to hunt this is not the case. To blast these birds out of the sky with no concern for the extinct of a species, which will happen if the RICH are allowed to continue this hunt.

Iain Gibson

Sometimes I think that people forget that grouse are birds too. The shooting industry has very cleverly driven the concept into our minds that they exist purely for their sadistic pleasure and "to boost the local economy." Every year I watch them driving the grouse and blasting them out of the sky, and think what is the point of such a sad and cruel pastime? Leave the birds in peace, and enjoy watching the harriers and other wildlife that would be allowed to flourish.

Rosalyn Cullan

Cruel sports have no place in a modern world. Killing for fun is an aberration. People have no right to treat living things as trash to be used and abused as they see fit. If it was a poor man's sport it would have been stopped years ago.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

no slaughter should be tolerated…it is but a lame excuse for those by bloodlust driven, to kill…

Leigh Lofgren

Another disaster of man's destruction by any means – this too must be stopped.

Mary Lynn

This is just another excuse for people to kill for the fun of it, and because they can. It's time for change. These 'hunters' have no place in the 21st century