Labour’s Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, Sue Hayman MP, will today call for a review into ‘driven’ grouse shooting – which the next Labour government will launch, if the Conservatives refuse. Today (12 August), is known as the Glorious Twelfth – or the Inglorious Twelfth to animal rights and environmental campaigners – and marks the beginning of the four-month grouse shooting season.
The proposed review would consider viable alternatives to driven grouse shooting, including simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. It would also examine the economic and environmental impacts of driven grouse shooting, which is the most common mode of hunting grouse.
Labour is calling for the review in light of extensive evidence that driven grouse shooting causes substantial environmental damage:
- Grouse moors cover 550,000 acres of the UK, an area equivalent to the size of Greater London.
- Earlier this year, as happens annually, much of that land was drained and dried out to prepare it for grouse shooting, destroying huge swathes of plant life and killing many animals.
- This process also exacerbates climate change by destroying plantlife and peat moors that would otherwise absorb and capture carbon dioxide emissions.
- Moors are often also burned to ready them for shooting, increasing the likelihood of both wildfires and flooding, emitting further carbon emissions and dramatically reducing their capacity to capture carbon in the future.
- In preparation for driven grouse shooting, mountain hares and hen harriers are often illegally culled.
- The RSPB describes hen harriers, which sometimes feed on grouse, as ‘the most intensively persecuted … of the UK’s birds of prey’, resulting in them being on ‘the edge of extinction in England.’
Despite such environmental damage, the ten largest English grouse moors are paid more than £3 million in farm subsidies every year. Labour’s demand for a review will be included in the Party’s comprehensive Animal Welfare Manifesto, which will be launched at the end of August.
Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary, said “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. For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it’s our environment and our people who pay the price.
“There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice.”