Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Monoculture grouse

Researching the sea eagle story below, I am increasingly coming up against stories and rumours that give cause for concern.

There are tales circulating of estates that will put up a massive deer fence, then set about eliminating every deer on the place. Hares too. It's all about defeating the ticks that hold down grouse numbers.

A recent story in Sporting Rifle magazine quoted Colin Shedden of BASC Scotland: "There is certainly concern about the move towards monoculture of grouse on areas that were traditional grouse and deer estates... A number of keepers and stalkers and others have already expressed their concern..."

Speaking anonymously to the same magazine, an Angus stalker said: "Economic considerations are of course vital to the successful running of all estates but for one or more species to suffer possible local extermination to benefit another raises serious concerns."

Tayside police wildlife officer Alan Stewart talked of visiting an estate where the deer had been fenced out with an electric fence; the hill was "silent, almost dead, a monoculture of grouse with hardly another vestige of wildlife to be seen". He says some estates are heading in the monoculture direction and finds it "a very worrying prospect indeed."

Damn right it is. That would effectively be intensively farming grouse on the open hill. It might be hugely profitable, but it goes against everything that real shooters stand for. And it would do terrible damage to the public perception of shooting.

Perhaps more worrying still are the rumours of threats and intimidation against keepers who don't toe the line.

I hope they're just that - rumours. But having those sort of rumours going round does shooting's image no favours. I'd welcome any suggestions about how they can be proved or scotched once and for all.


Alan Tilmouth said...

I'm almost lost for words, almost, for once we are entirely in agreement.
An epiphany moment James, I expect the next post will give us more detail on your conversion to eco-warrior, see you at the next Hunt Saboteurs Ball?

Eddie Jones said...

I would suggest with it being six months since this bird has died,the police have not enough evidence to make a case and are stiring it up in the hope someone will come forward with more for them to go on.No gamekeeper would leave a bird for all to see even if he did kill it,this is all a set up in my eyes.

James Marchington said...

Hi Eddie, yes, I'd like to believe that. My natural reaction is to think that no shooter would do such a terrible thing, and that it's a set-up by the antis.

The more I look into this, though, the more I get the uncomfortable feeling that there are some places where sheer greed rules the day, and to hell with considerations like ethics and wildlife that people like you and I hold dear.

If I'm right - and I really hope I'm not - then true shooters have a real problem that we're going to have to face up to, or there's a danger that all shooting will suffer for the greed of a few.

murphyfish said...

Hi James,
It does seem that this is a sad reflection of modern day society where short term greed seems to out weigh the need for a more balanced view. Shooting is not doing itself any favors here whilst detrimental stories like these, whether truthful or not, abound. These are the type of stories that are grasped buy the ‘hunting is deplorable and satanic zealots’ and flung into the publics face as examples of ‘them there devils with guns’.
Regarding the “monoculture of grouse”, this would truly be harmful, firstly to the whole eco-system of the locality but also to the perception of shooting and the way it is managed. As for answers, unfortunately I have none other than trying to educate people, being aware of my own impact, and by not supporting financially such schemes.

Eddie Jones said...

It is a shame for the bird if this has been killed by someone on the estate.On one of our shoots that i beat and pick up on we seen 25 buzzards circling over a small 1 acre wood.These must be thriving on rabbits and the odd pricked bird that hasn`t been picked up (not saying i am not doing my job here )because our shoot meets its targets every year.Now if we can live with and discurage that anount of buzzards from killing the chicks when released,im sure the big estates can manage a few beautiful eagles flying around.

Sooty said...

Nice comments from everyone really pleased to see more or less acceptance of Buzzards and Eagles at least this attitude is sure to benefit all shooters in the long term if you can convert enough of your coleages.Think the amount of game Eagles would take is really tiny,there is much easier prey or carrion which if available is probably there main food.Hope you took Mark some warm food and drink James with you being a gent you were sure to.