Scotland Approves Grouse Moor Licensing


Yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of the Wildlife Management & Muirburn Bill, legislation that will bring in a licensing scheme for grouse shooting and muirburn (moorland burning) following a long campaign by conservation organisations.

Red grouse - still fair game for the guns, but how they go about doing things now has to change  © REVIVE
Red grouse - still fair game for the guns, but how they go about doing things now has to change

A key motivation for the regime of greater control over grouse moors has been the ongoing scandal of illegal raptor persection on Scottish grouse shooting estates, a crime it is notoriously difficult to prosecute. Concerns have grown in recent years, too, over the wider environmental impact of land management that promotes heather monoculture and damages carbon-storing peatland through cycles of deliberate burning.

Burning for grouse moor management keeps huge areas of uplands in an impoverished state  © REVIVE
Burning for grouse moor management keeps huge areas of uplands in an impoverished state

Grouse moors will now require a licence, and those that commit wildlife crimes will have this revoked. Muirburn is effectively banned on deep peat, a vital carbon resource in the uplands, and will be licensed for the first time so that - it is hoped - there'll be less damage and more oversight of this environmentally questionable practise. Trapping will require a licence, and snares are banned. In addition the Scottish SPCA is to be given beefed-up investigatory powers.

"This Bill marks a significant intervention into land management practices in Scotland and finally regulates a controversial industry that's responsible for environmental destruction, that restricts economic opportunities for rural communities and that kills hundreds of thousands of animals so a few more grouse can be shot for sport" said Max Wiszniewski, Campaign Manager for REVIVE, a coalition of organisations working to reform Scotland's grouse moors.

"While it doesn't go far enough to end the 'killing to kill' on grouse moors, banning snares - the cruel and indiscriminate traps that are common on grouse moors - is an important win for animal welfare against an industry that was desperate to keep them.

"The extra protection of peatlands is welcome but with three quarters of Scots against moorland burning for grouse shooting, the Parliament still has some catching up to do. Nevertheless, this legislation will hopefully go some way to tackling the persecution of Scotland's birds of prey, something that our First, First Minister Donald Dewar called a 'national disgrace' in 1998."

Altogether 85 MSPs voted for the bill, while the Scottish Conservatives and a lone SNP voice, the country-sports-friendly Fergus Ewing, made up the 30 votes against.

Where Scotland leads, will England one day follow?

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23 Mar

So 29 conservatives voting against out of the current 31 (if my internet search is correct). Pals from industry and corporations must have their fun I suppose! So grotesquely stereotypical that I cannot even find the energy to laugh…

23 Mar

Quelle surprise!

Fergus Ewing, the Landed Gentry's man in the SNP voted against.

23 Mar

Raptor persecution happens on a daily basis on commercial highland sporting estates, there is strong evidence of this from GPS tagging of birds by the RSPB.

It is absolutely sickening and shows how backwards the whole industry is.

Hopefully England will follow... the moors here seem even less biodivers than in Scotland, perhaps due to the intensity and length of that style of management . Protect and restore them !

23 Mar

A great victory for nature, and certainly something England should be looking at bringing in.

If people are interested in why this was a necessary, I'd highly recommend Mark Avery's book 'Inglorious' where he comprehensively sets out the case for regulating this industry. A good day for the hen harrier!

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