In 2016 a man was secretly filmed with a gun and a hen harrier decoy on National Trust land in the Peak District. Consequently, the Trust served notice to the shooting tenant that managed its land for grouse management, claiming it no longer had confidence that the tenant fitted with their vision for the Peaks.
Local residents and NT members started a petition to ask the Trust not to fill the position when the current tenant vacates, hoping it would instead move towards a wilder vision for its estates in the Peak District, the first National Park.
Grouse shooting drives wildlife crime and it is very difficult to catch the perpetrators. Grouse moors are managed to benefit grouse only, and that means that heather is burnt to provide food for grouse, mountain hares are killed as they carry ticks, foxes and other predators are killed, and, importantly rare birds of prey are illegally killed.
Last year, another hen harrier went missing over a grouse moor. There is definite link between grouse shooting and the disappearance or killing of raptors; a recent study showed that in Scotland:
“tagging data for 44 golden eagles, eight hen harriers and 25 red kites that had disappeared or been deliberately killed since 2009… displayed on a map of Scotland… the distribution of illegally killed or suspiciously disappeared satellite-tagged red kites and hen harriers is far from random, and shows clear clusters in some upland areas. As with the hotspots for eagles, these clusters are almost entirely coincident with land dominated by driven grouse shooting management.”
The arguments against grouse shooting come from several parties: the nature conservationists are concerned about the rare birds that are illegally killed; animal welfare activists are horrified by the annual murder of 500,000 grouse birds for fun; environmentalists worry about how management of grouse moors leads to flood risk and leaves no room for species diversity.
‘This petition is not trying to ban shooting, nor is it just about our missing hen harriers. It’s about restoring the balance in favour of biodiversity and removing the drivers for wildlife crimes on National Trust land.
The petition has so far been ignored by the NT but they have coincidentally put out a job advert seeking a new tenant to manage the grouse moors. Can they seriously desire to continue this work when so many of their members and the local community are so disgusted by it? When the land could be put to better use for its members through rewilding – allowing a variety of species to flourish and not jeopardizing our struggling hen harriers?
The NT explain their overall position on shooting on their website:
Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation, said: ‘Our core concern is looking after special places so that they can be enjoyed by everyone for ever.
Grouse shooting could not be a clearer example of an elite few benefiting while the rest of us miss out. Grouse moor estates are private land managed solely for the purpose of making lots of money out of people shooting grouse. Not only is the concept completely out of date and as disgusting as fox hunting is to most people, it is also a wasted opportunity to create a wilder nature reserve in the popular Peaks. It is the loss of an ecosystem.
If you’re interested in signing the petition to end grouse shooting on these two NT sites please follow this link and add you name.