Upcoming grouse season set to bring welcome financial boost to remote rural areas
Positive forecast after two poor years in which many areas were forced to abandon the sport because of bad weather and the pandemic, as reported by Hayley Dixon in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.
The Glorious Twelfth is to return next week with a bumper brood of grouse, as shoots recover from some of their worst years.
The beginning of the shooting season on Friday will be a boost to rural communities that will benefit from an increase in employment and visitor numbers.
The positive picture for the grouse season is in sharp contrast to the past few years, when a combination of the pandemic and bad breeding weather for the wild birds forced many shoots to cancel.
Rob Mitchell, headkeeper on a grouse moor in County Durham, was out preparing on Friday. “Things are looking much more promising this year, as the weather was good when the grouse were nesting and we have been seeing some really healthy broods,” he told The Telegraph.
“On a shoot day, I employ a large casual workforce which can change daily from schoolchildren to pensioners, including family and friends. The financial benefits are really important to them, as are the social aspects.
“A day’s shooting brings people together for something they have been looking forward to for months.
“We have something really special here. Long may it continue, as grouse shooting really can be a lifeline for so many of our remote upland communities.”
Last year, the first major study of the sport found that it gave a major boost to rural economies, bringing in billions to hard to reach areas.
One example given was the North York Moors National Park, about 85 per cent of which is managed as a grouse moor. There are 8.38 million visitors annually, generating spending of £730 million and supporting 11,290 full-time equivalent jobs.
At the same time that the study was released, moors suffered one of the worst seasons in decades as weather conditions led to many chicks dying and some shoots being cancelled completely.
Adrian Blackmore, director of the Campaign for Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “Grouse shooting plays an incredibly important part in the lives of many who live in our uplands, not just economically, but also socially. It is not just about landowners, employees or individual interests, it is about whole communities.
“So, when we have a bad season, when only a few days shooting might be possible or, even worse, no shooting takes place at all, it has a devastating impact not only for the thousands of people employed directly on grouse moors, but also the huge number of businesses that depend on shooting, such as pubs, hotels and local shops.
“After a couple of really poor years, the prospects for this season are looking far better for most moors, and that is something to really celebrate.”
While it is good news for the start of the shooting calendar, with a healthy brood of the wild birds, partridge and pheasant shoots are set to struggle later in the season - because most of the eggs are imported from France, which has been hit by bird flu.