A government-led review of grouse moor management stopped short of recommending a ban on driven grouse shooting – but rural groups warn it could still lead to ‘seismic’ change for grouse moors in Scotland.
The Werritty Review, which has now published its findings, recommends a ‘barrage of measures that will leave the grouse shooting sector engulfed in legislation and red tape.’
Following the publication of the review group’s report, a joint statement was issued by BASC, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Association for Country Sports and Scottish Land & Estates.
The controversy has largely arisen over the subject of licensing grouse shoots, which the report says should be explored if raptor populations do not show a marked improvement. The field sports groups argue that ‘it would push an important rural business sector beyond breaking point.’
Their response said: “Grouse shooting plays a vital role in helping to sustain communities and delivers multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.
“It would be a tragedy if the massive private investment that underpins these benefits is put at risk by a package of regulatory measures that will herald fundamental change.”
Furthermore, penalties for wildlife crime in Scotland are about to get much tougher. The group statement remarked: “Scotland already has the most stringent laws to deal with raptor persecution in the UK and they’re about to get even tougher with proposed jail sentences of up to five years and wide-ranging new financial penalties – which we support.
“There has been huge progress in recent years to combat raptor persecution and incidents are at historically low levels.
“We are committed to playing our part to help eradicate the problem but are deeply concerned that law-abiding rural businesses will be buried under an avalanche of regulation and added costs as a result of this review.
“The sector has already willingly embraced change and improvements in how it operates. We believe further enhanced training and codes of practice… are the best solution, rather than onerous licensing provisions and we will be seeking an urgent meeting with the government to discuss these key areas.”