An increasing number of people are calling for an end to grouse shooting - ahead of the bloodsport's season opening on the 'Glorious Twelfth'.
Animal welfare organization The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) says the 'large number of grouse being shot, persecution of moorland wildlife and the negative impact on the environment and local communities has led to increased opposition to the ‘sport''.
According to LACS, senior figures within the shooting industry itself have responded to the pressure, with The Shooting Times Editor Patrick Galbraith warning 'greedy' estates to show restraint 'by not offering the opportunity to shoot large numbers of birds ahead of environmental considerations'. Yet despite this, some estates are offering upwards of a 300 bag of grouse per shoot day.
Grouse shooting estates often use controversial methods to ensure they can offer shooters as many birds to kill as possible. These including inhumane ways of slaughtering natural predators.
Wild animals including foxes, stoats, weasels and mountain hare are trapped, snared, poisoned and shot in large numbers. In addition, according to LACS: "There is also a strong link between moorland managed for grouse shooting and bird of prey persecution, which sees protected species including hen harrier, red kite and peregrine falcon being illegally targeted and killed – which has been acknowledged by to the National Wildlife Crime Unit."
In a bid to increase heather growth and subsequently grouse numbers, estates will burn and drain habitat, causing damage to peatland habitat, depleting biodiversity, polluting water and contributing to flood risk in the valleys below grouse moors.
Self-regulation is getting us nowhere
Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "There is no good way to manage moorland for grouse shooting: it can only be done through purging by gamekeepers of native wildlife by trap, snare, poison and gun, and burning away precious habitat, all at the expense of country’s rich natural heritage.
“It is clear the Government's approach of leaving the industry to regulate itself is getting nowhere. Grouse shooting estates are ignoring calls for restraint from peers within the industry, killing wildlife and desecrating habitat to provide large numbers of birds to shoot.
"A grouse shooting ban must be implemented to finally end this conservation calamity - as a growing number of MPs and landowners are coming to realise."