Prospects for the forthcoming grouse shooting season are mixed due to the recent bad weather, according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
But the full impact of the wet weather on grouse breeding numbers probably will not be known until after the season starts.
Although the grouse shooting season officially starts on Sunday 12th August, shooting will not start until Monday 13th August. Under the Game Act 1831 England and Wales, it is an offence for any person to kill or take game on a Sunday or Christmas Day. There are no statutory restrictions in Scotland but it is customary not to shoot game on Sundays. Grouse cannot be shot on Sundays in Northern Ireland under the Game Preservation Act (Northern Ireland) 1928.
Broadcast quality footage is available for download in clip form for broadcast or web use from http://www.basc.org.uk/en/media/basc-films/grouse2012/. All clips are HDV format.
The clips include Robin Varley, a moorland gamekeeper, who said: “It’s always difficult to predict the amount of grouse you’re going to have, it’s difficult to predict the type of season you’re going to have. With the wet weather we have had this year - I think it could be very patchy.
“The areas like ours that have had a tremendous amount of rain with localised flooding, it could be a little bit poor but areas where it has been sheltered and they haven’t had as much rain, I think they might not do too bad. It will be patchy, to say the least, it will be patchy.
“The economic benefits of grouse shooting to the local economy, it’s immeasurable. The guns that come to shoot spend money here but by spending money on the grouse shooting, the boss then has the funds to invest in the dry stone walls, the footpaths, the stiles, all the things that encourage the walkers and the general public to visit this beautiful area. In turn they then spend money in the local economy; so basically it’s immeasurable what grouse shooting brings in.”
“After the continuous rain we have had since April, I am going to be very interested to see just what effect it’s had on the wildlife and the environment and we aren’t really going to see that until we have done the season.”
Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director said: “Before we consider 2012, I think it’s useful to look back to 2010 / 2011 - two very good years for grouse shooting in Scotland. So we entered the winter with a good stock, it was a benign, soft, mild winter and then what happened was heavy rain came in April, May and June as well. So the impact of the rain has been felt by a number of estates. This has impacted on the breeding success of the grouse but there are a number of areas where prospects are still looking good and we are mainly talking about the east of the country, slightly drier than the West. We are also looking at the higher ground, usually above 1500 feet, where the effect of tick on the young grouse has been much less.”
“So in some areas where there has been good management, good stock of healthy birds, they have survived the atrocious weather. In other areas the weather and other compounding factors have led to loss of young grouse. Again, a mixed bag. Some areas will do OK, others will have suffered, primarily because of the rain.”
Robert Owen Brown, executive head chef at the Mark Addy in Manchester, added: “I think grouse has quite rightly got the name the king of all game birds hasn’t it? It’s the most difficult to shoot, it’s probably one of our wildest game birds that we’ve got , the flavours are fabulous and it’s just a wonderful, wonderful product. I think it symbolises everything that’s great and good about the British countryside to me.”
“I think if I was cooking a grouse at home I would very very simply pan roast it – give it 10 or 15 minutes in the oven with some roast potatoes, game chips, some lovely bread sauce and a little bit of watercress, that would do it.”
Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and threatened globally - 75 per cent of what is left is found in Britain because it is managed for red grouse. Red grouse are only found in the British Isles. They are wild gamebirds.
August 12th marks the start of the grouse shooting season. Throughout this period people from all over the world head for the UK. The season lasts from August 12th to December 10th in Great Britain and from August 12th to November 30th in Northern Ireland. Grouse provides a highly prized dish and is much sought-after by restaurants.