10
Jun
16

National Trust pulls grouse shooting lease in Peak District National Park

The National Trust has just gone from zero to hero in a move that will send shock waves throughout the grouse-shooting industry and will draw wide acclaim from conservationists.

You may remember at the end of April this year we published a video of an armed man, sitting next to a decoy hen harrier, on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (see here). This grouse moor was one of three owned by the National Trust within the National Park, and was leased to a previously unnamed shooting tenant (but see below).

Fake Hen Harrier (1) - Copy

In our opinion, this video depicted somebody lying in wait for a passing hen harrier to come in and mob the decoy bird, bringing the live bird in to close enough range to be shot.

Blog readers from here and from Mark Avery’s website (here) were encouraged to contact the National Trust and ask them what they thought was going on in this video and what they intended to do about it. We know that many of you did just that. The National Trust responded (here) and said they were launching an investigation after the police investigation had failed to make progress.

A couple of weeks later we contacted the National Trust again and asked for an update. We speculated whether they’d be bold or whether they’d bottle it (here). To be honest, we fully expected them to bottle it, as so many other organisations have done when it comes to standing up against the grouse-shooting industry.

We were wrong, and have never been so happy to be wrong! The National Trust has just issued the following statement, and what a statement it is, in every sense of the word:

National Trust Public Statement:

The National Trust has today given notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018.

The charity said it had taken the decision to exercise a break clause in the lease to end the relationship four years early.

Andy Beer, National Trust’s Director for the Midlands, said: “We have a clear vision for land management and wildlife restoration on the High Peak Moors, which was developed in full consultation with our tenants and other key stakeholders.

All our tenants have signed up to deliver to the vision and understand their responsibilities. We work very closely with our tenants and support, consult and discuss any issues relating to the plan on a regular basis.

However, in this case we have decided, after a meeting with the tenant, that we should revoke the lease four years early as it became clear that we could no longer have confidence that they were committed to the delivery of our vision for the land.

We have given the tenant 22 months’ notice and will start the process of looking for a replacement in 2017, when we will be happy to receive applications from partners who can demonstrate how moorland management and shooting can deliver great nature conservation in a way that is compatible with public access.

We remain committed to the High Peak Moors Vision. As with all our conservation aims, we review and evaluate progress periodically. When considering renewals of individual shooting leases in future we will take into careful account the extent to which our objectives have been met, in particular relating to increasing raptor populations.”

Jon Stewart, General Manager, Peak District National Trust

END

This is a ground-breaking move from the National Trust. It’s a huge decision! Basically the NT is saying that it will no longer tolerate the illegal persecution of raptors, whether suspected or actual, on land that it leases to grouse-shooting tenants. It also won’t tolerate the environmentally-devastating impacts of intensively managed driven grouse moors. Let’s hope the next tenant is someone who prefers the far less damaging ‘walked-up’ style of grouse shooting instead.

So finally, after all these years, we now have an organisation that is prepared to be bold and stand up against the previously untouchable grouse-shooting industry! And not just on this grouse moor, which, incidentally, is currently-but-not-for-much-longer managed by Mark Osborne, a name that has often cropped up on this blog and in other media (try Google if you don’t know who he is), but also on other NT-leased grouse moors. Look at that final sentence of the NT statement; if raptor populations are not allowed to recover on these driven grouse moors, tenants can expect their leases to also be pulled.

The NT deserves every plaudit coming its way for this decision and we’d encourage as many of you as possible to contact Jon Stewart and congratulate him and the NT on such a courageously pioneering move. Emails please to: Jon.Stewart@nationaltrust.org.uk 

Not everyone is happy with the NT’s decision, not least the Moorland Association (the representative body of grouse moor owners in England). The Moorland Association has issued the following statement in response to the NT’s news:

STATEMENT from Moorland Association chairman, Robert Benson:

The  Moorland Association is very sad that the National Trust has taken the decision to terminate a sporting lease early. This is the result of a breakdown in confidence in the current tenant’s commitment to the delivery of NT’s Vision and will take effect in April 2018.

We are, however, delighted that the NT has recognised the importance of grouse shooting to help deliver its High Peak Vision and is putting in place a new shooting tenant in order to deliver this.

The MA will do all it can to help this process.

END

What’s hilarious about this statement, apart from them being “very sad”, (remember their anagram? ‘A Sad Morons’ Coalition’) is the headline they’ve used on their website to announce their statement. It reads:

“National Trust supports grouse shooting on its land”.

If ever you needed a perfect example of the lengths the grouse-shooting industry will go to to spread idiotic propaganda and spin, this has to be it!

It’s also amusing to note that they’ve quoted the National Trust’s statement, but have conveniently ‘forgotten’ to include the last paragraph about how NT leases are unlikely to be renewed in future if there’s no sign of a recovery of raptor populations on those grouse moors.

Unlike the Moorland Association, we are, of course, VERY HAPPY with the NT’s news, and not least because it’s a clear demonstration of the influence public pressure can have. Without doubt, the NT’s decision has been made as a direct result of the public’s response to that video nasty filmed on NT land. Hats off to the two birdwatchers who had the wit to film what they were seeing, to the person who sent us that video and asked us to publish it, and to all of you who responded and contacted the National Trust to let them know how strongly you felt. This is a massive result and you all played a big part.

Onwards.

The e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting can be signed HERE

Media coverage

BBC news here

Mark Avery blog here

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105 Responses to “National Trust pulls grouse shooting lease in Peak District National Park”


  1. 1 Caro McAdam
    June 10, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Fantastic news! And Raptor Persecution deserves a lot of credit. Gosh I hope this sends shockwaves…

  2. 2 Andrew
    June 10, 2016 at 1:52 am

    I doubt this would have happened without the sterling efforts of this site. Very well done.
    Well done to PDNP too. Put a clause in your new contracts allowing immediate termination, at your sole discretion, in the event of wildlife crime prosecutions. I hope you will be sending out a written warning to remaining tenants of this new positive action to ensure proper management on your lands. It has the potential to see rapid results.

    Lets see the other National Parks follow suit.

  3. 3 Gerard
    June 10, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Bloody marvellous.

  4. 4 Jack Snipe
    June 10, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I find this very difficult to comment on, especially as RPUK seems to be riding on the crest of a wave and regarding it as a great victory. Perhaps I’m just an eternal pessimist who craves unpopularity, but have to be honest and say that I can’t share your optimism completely. No matter how much this is a significant step in the right direction, I would rather the NT had been more affirmative and taken the decision to ban completely the abhorrent practice of grouse shooting in the National Park. In my humble opinion such activities have no place within a public asset, which is supposed to be there for us to enjoy nature and wild places, not abuse them. The NT statement however is open to interpretation, in other words woolly, and leaves the door ajar for grouse shooting (driven or otherwise) to recommence in the not too distant future. All the appellants need do is assure the NT that they will not break the law by killing raptors. We all know how hollow such promises can be.

    I’ve been arguing for years that a step to walked-up grouse shooting is not necessarily going to lead to a reduction in raptor persecution. The gamekeeper mentality does not change overnight, and I say this having had some experience of dealing with them in both scenarios – within my study area before shooting was abandoned, due to lack of grouse, there were two estates doing walk-up and two estates doing driven shooting. All the ‘keepers were equally ruthless in their persecution of so-called vermin, including almost totally suppressing the Hen Harrier breeding populations. To continue to squeeze sufficient grouse out of the ecosystem, the industry still believes that all the bad (including illegal) practices are necessary, even to support walked-up shooting. When ‘keepering stopped on two and significantly wound down on the other two estates I know, the harriers increased from an average of one attempt (usually unsuccessful) to as many as 14 breeding pairs. However no-one in the anti-persecution camp seems to have taken my experience or advice seriously, and it saddens me to hear that you are, in a sense, looking forward to the uptake of walked-up grouse shooting in the Peak District National Park. It may be the lesser of two evils, but only just.

    A syndicate recently put forward a detailed proposal to turn the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Scotland into a massive “regenerated” grouse moor, but fortunately the local authority (Renfrewshire Council) decided that commercial grouse shooting was an inappropriate activity in a public asset of this nature. If only the National Trust had made such a progressive, enlightened decision. All credit to RPUK however, for moving things in the right direction.

    • 5 Apus apus
      June 10, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Good comment, Jack Snipe. Why can’t the NT see that shooting should not be carried out in a NP? A truely radical decision would have been to ban all grouse shooting, which would have sent out a clear message that this type of land use is not compatible with their conservation aims. It’s not just the persecution of birds of prey that needs to stop, but the relentless and often cruel killing of foxes, stoats, corvids etc, the use of lead shot and medicated grit and the burning of heather which releases carbon into the atmosphere and creates an artificial landscape devoid of trees.

      • 6 Lee
        August 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm

        This is good news, but should the national trust have any land used for grouse shooting ? Why does it not ballot its members to ask if grouse shooting should be allowed on its land ?

    • June 10, 2016 at 10:37 am

      I tend to agree, the mentality of the keepers are deeply entrenched, created over generations of serving their masters and a deep hatred for wildlife and their joy of simply killing things. However that being said it certainly is a step in the right direction and could have ongoing implications for the shooting industry at large.

      I’m slightly disappointed that the lease hasn’t been terminated with immediate effect but that would be hoping for too much.

    • 8 Doug Malpus
      June 10, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      I consider the news good but with reservation and concern about the National Trust plans. RPUK trumpet blowing may be too early in this case. I agree with Jack Snipe’s comments about commercial shooting. The grouse production and predator persecution will continue, whether the shooting is driven or walked up, along with all other environmental issues.

      Never the less I have written to NT as a concerned member, with the following:

      Hi Jon,

      Although I am pleased to find that the NT has responded to threats of Raptor persecution on its land with the withdrawal of the shooting lease. I do hope that withdrawal of shooting leases on NT land will continue to be enforced and increasingly used.

      As for new tenants, I do not see how any grouse shooting industry can really meet the standards expected in modern moorland management. The shooting industry is just a cruel farming method to satisfy the blood lust of a few sadistic individuals. Most of the birds killed are not fit to eat with lead and many other chemicals polluting their corpses, many are just disposed of as waste. The environmental damage and cruelty, such industries create in their pursuit of intense grouse production, is as acceptable as factory farming. Along with archaic persecution of predators including protected species, with outlawed methods using traps and banned poisons, must be stopped.

      The NT is part of this correction and I do hope that money will not sway you from this path and I look forward to the NT stopping all mass killing methods on OUR land.

      When will we see pheasant shooting stopped? Pheasant farming is just gun fodder production. 40,000,000 live targets per year must be wrong.

      I support the NT and do not wish to withdraw my support. Many years ago, I did leave the NT because of their unwillingness to stop hunting with dogs, I hope I am not driven to that again.

      Thank you,

      ……………………………………………

      Doug

      • 9 Doug Malpus
        June 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        This is the answer to my email to NT:

        The National Trust has today given notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018.

        The charity said it had taken the decision to exercise a break clause in the lease to end the relationship four years early.

        Andy Beer, National Trust’s Director for the Midlands, said: “We have a clear vision for land management and wildlife restoration on the High Peak Moors, which was developed in full consultation with our tenants and other key stakeholders”.

        “All our tenants have signed up to deliver to the vision and understand their responsibilities. We work very closely with our tenants and support, consult and discuss any issues relating to the plan on a regular basis.

        However, in this case we have decided, after a meeting with the tenant, that we should revoke the lease four years early as it became clear that we could no longer have confidence that they were committed to the delivery of our vision for the land.”

        “We have given the tenant 22 months’ notice and will start the process of looking for a replacement in 2017, when we will be happy to receive applications from partners who can demonstrate how moorland management and shooting can deliver great nature conservation in a way that is compatible with public access.

        We remain committed to the High Peak Moors Vision. As with all our conservation aims, we review and evaluate progress periodically. When considering renewals of individual shooting leases in future we will take into careful account the extent to which our objectives have been met, in particular relating to increasing raptor populations.”

        ……………………………………………….

        Jon also says:

        Please forgive “blind copy” email follow up to your correspondence with the Trust on an alleged incident on our moors in February this year, which was subsequently investigated by the police. We received a lot of enquiries and some of you requested we let you know the result of our follow up. I am therefore doing that now a decision has been taken. Some of you know what that is already and have sent in emails. I am, however, sending to everyone I can who previously corresponded. We have received so many emails since the decision, welcoming it, that I can’t quickly work out which of you has already followed up.

        ……………………………………………….

        No more news then!

        Doug

    • June 13, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Well said, Jack. I totally agree. The NT should stop trying to be on both sides at once. Ban all hunting and shooting on NT land across the UK.

  5. 12 Martin Parr
    June 10, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Excellent news!! Well done to everyone concerned and the NT response is superb – not dependent on people being caught, a simple no raptors = no lease! Love it. Clear and enequivocal!

  6. 13 Erica Sarney
    June 10, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Lets hope this will lead to a recovery of Hen Harrier on upland Moors. It is now time for United Utilities to step up to the mark and do the same on their land… The appalling slaughter of birds of prey cannot continue to go on.

  7. 14 Mike Mills
    June 10, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Massive credit to you guys and so good to find recognition amongst all the organisations out there who seem to be denying the obvious and objective evidence. It’s like the N.T. have just said that they can’t see the King’s new clothes and we can all now imagine the looks on the faces of the other organisations, reactions like that of the MA. Thank you for your role and for giving us some good news and hope.

  8. 15 jason fisher
    June 10, 2016 at 6:35 am

    this actually gives me confidence that a correspondence i had a few years ago, with one of the NT staff, will actually be upheld.
    The first step in actually restoring the moors to their proper state

  9. June 10, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Hats of to the two birdwatchers who witnessed this in the first place and who had the presence of mind to capture the images. All we need is the hard evidence and progress can be made. Its great news, we should be suggesting alternatives to the NT so they dont need to offer a new sporting lease. Say…. an alternative hen harrier recovery plan….one that simply changes the moorland management by removing the sporting interest… and monitor what happens? At the very least it would be an interesting contrast against the doomed defra plan.

  10. 18 Jim Clarke
    June 10, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Well, and we were getting all geared up to disrupt this season’s shoots! The Raptor Liberation Front may now have to reconsider its next move. Hay ho, mustn’t grumble!

    • 19 crypticmirror
      June 10, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Do it anyway, one battle is not the same as winning the war.

      • 20 Jim Clarke
        June 10, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        I completely agree crypticmirror, but I’m thinking Jon Stewart deserves a bit of carrot, there are plenty of others to waive the big stick at.

      • 21 Jim Clarke
        June 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm

        By the way, when I wrote to Jon this morning I did say ‘postponed’ not ‘cancelled’ and that that was only on the condition of no further raptor persecution incidents. I’m sure many will have an opinion on how likely that is going to be, but I do think it’s only fair to make a gesture to Jon at this point. Organising will continue in the mean time.

  11. 22 Penelope Barth von Wehrenalp
    June 10, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Thank you for this good news and please keep on with the pressure

  12. 23 steve macsweeney
    June 10, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Great news and very encouraging all round.Would prefer not to dwell on Jack Snipes comments altho I fully endorse them, and suspect this is the reality.
    All the same, bask in a hard won success RPUK may this be one step closer to the end of grouse shooting altogether.Thank you.

    • 24 Marian
      June 10, 2016 at 7:40 am

      I agree, Steve – and I agree, Jack Snipe.

      But well done to RPUK and all supporters – at least more pressure has been put on NT – and their actions might send out a useful message to other criminals on the moors.

  13. 25 John Law
    June 10, 2016 at 7:56 am

    There should be NO shooting on ANY NT land.

    • 26 Chris Roberts
      June 10, 2016 at 8:33 am

      I fully agree John Law, neither should there be any shooting in any National Park – where all blood ‘sports’ should be banned completely. The public should be safe to walk round any NP without the risk of being shot at – the same goes for all wildlife.

    • 27 heclasu
      June 12, 2016 at 1:59 am

      …or any other land

  14. 28 crypticmirror
    June 10, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I’m not going to celebrate yet. Firstly because 22 months notice? Oy, if only private landlords gave their tenants that long. Mainly though because we haven’t had the inevitable lawsuit from the shooting tenant to reverse the NT’s decision nor seen which pro-huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ judge will be sitting on it. Once we get confirmation that the shooters will not be suing over this termination (give them a month’s notice, most tenants in ex-council flats get that and many only a week, no wait, have their lease terminate on 11th August) then I’ll feel better. I hope their next tenant’s lease has some much stronger language about what they are and are not to do on the moors with much harsher penalty clauses if they are caught.

    • 29 Andrew
      June 11, 2016 at 1:24 am

      It is quite normal for say a 6 year business lease to only have a break clause at three years unless in breach of the terms of the lease. Hopefully they will add further causes to new leases.

    • 30 heclasu
      June 12, 2016 at 2:02 am

      Yes, I must admit that this perplexed me somewhat! I hope that all future contracts they draw up with shooting interests will include a clause whereby the shooting rights are withdrawn immediately and without notice should malpractice come to light.

  15. 31 Simon Tucker
    June 10, 2016 at 8:28 am

    When I wrote to the National Trust a couple years ago, in the wake of the RSPB filming of a keeper using a large crow trap to trap and kill buzzards, they wrote back saying that they would terminate the tenancy of any shooting business that either persecuted raptors or failed to deliver on biodiversity targets (is that a poor choice of word?).

    It looks as if they meant it. So congratulations to them for this small step. Perhaps dropping them a line to congratulate them might just persuade them that they can do more. For a large, monolithic organisation to act as quickly as they have done, in the face of the usual propaganda from the criminals and their apologists, and the usual impotence of the police, is a creditable, if small, step on the right path.

    As Mao (or was it Confucius?) put it: every journey starts with a single step.

    • 32 crypticmirror
      June 10, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Then another step, and another, breaking into a swift run, followed by lifting your boot smartly into their crotch.
      That one was Terry Pratchett.

      Lets get this run up started.

  16. June 10, 2016 at 8:32 am

    How brilliant, well done for all your efforts to bring awareness to everyone about raptor persecution this must stop and without your efforts people just wouldn’t know what goes on.

  17. 34 Peter Shearer
    June 10, 2016 at 8:39 am

    It may well not be a total victory for the reasons outlined by others. But it is progress and it helps to fire a warning shot to our enemies. In this fight it is a battle for the minds of the public and in that sense this will make news and keep the issue in the press. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement so let us accept it as that. Well done to all that played a part.

  18. 35 Richard
    June 10, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I would have been happier if the NT had decided not to renew the shooting lease at all!!

    • 36 crypticmirror
      June 10, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Yeah. Fiver says it turns out to be a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We’ll probably have to go through this a few times to get them to stop. Birders and wildlife crime activists should give this moor extra scrutiny in order to try and catch whoever it is they get next at it. Because they will be at it, whoever they are.

  19. 37 Alister J Clunas
    June 10, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Well done to the birdwatchers, RPUK and to the National Trust. A great success.
    The National Trust is a large organisation with complex management structures including many advisers on specific aspects of management e.g. nature conservation, archaeology and buildings. So to reach a decision of this magnitude in such a short time is exemplary. The reason that the termination period is so long is that it takes advantage of a break clause in the lease.
    What NT needs to think carefully about is.
    In order to meet its objectives on the site. Does it need to let a sporting lease or can its objectives be met by other means?
    If it decides to let a sporting lease it needs to think carefully about the wording relating to raptors and their conservation, break clauses and termination conditions in the lease. An finally can NT trust a new shooting tenant to meet its aspirations for raptor recovery?

  20. June 10, 2016 at 9:08 am

    The fact that the Moorland Association opted to omit the final sentence of the statement both shows their true colours and that they at least regard this as a serious defeat. Although understandable I think at this point doubt and cynicism regarding NT’s statement that “if raptor populations are not allowed to recover on these driven grouse moors, tenants can expect their leases to also be pulled” is misplaced. With organisations like RPUK keeping NT up to the mark, it will put pressure on estates with a strange absence of raptors without the need to demonstrate direct evidence of persecution. In short it lowers threshold of evidence whereby a strong case can be made to terminate leases. It may not mean the war is won, but it’s certainly a promising strategic victory. My one caveat is that we must guard against entryism into the NT by the CA et al aimed at changing this progressive policy.

  21. 40 Peter Jones
    June 10, 2016 at 9:09 am

    There is nothing else quite like the persecution of UK Hen Harriers anywhere else in the world. Nobody can be under any illusion, or have any doubts, the crime against raptors and the Hen Harrier in particular, are a product of those who manage our uplands for the purposes of driven grouse shooting. It is this abuse of trust and power, which should belong to a bygone age, that denies the vast majority of the population enjoyment of ‘our uplands’ and ‘our natural heritage’. It is nothing short of outrageous!

    It was therefore heart warming to read the statement giving notice to end the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall. Of course Derbyshire is currently a hotbed of persecution for raptors and these integral birds of the uplands deserve more protection from the legal system than currently being afforded.

    Congratulations to the National Trust for this progressive and leading action against raptor persecution. Hopefully we will all soon arrive at the common view, that driven grouse shooting will not and cannot be allowed to continue, it most certainly is not conducive to wildlife in general and raptors in particular.

  22. 41 Roderick Leslie
    June 10, 2016 at 9:13 am

    This is indeed good news. It makes sense to utilise a legal break point in the lease rather than get into the complications of immediate termination. There is another advantage to the delay in terminating the lease: it gives time for the no doubt ponderous governance of the Trust to come round to realising that it should not renew the shooting lease. There is nothing that says moorland needs to be shot for driven grouse and the NT has adequate proof that shooting and hen harriers can’t live together. The Trust now has to decide whether it really is a conservation charity or simply an extension of the ‘traditional’ landowning that has eliminated raptors from much of our uplands and National Parks.

  23. June 10, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Surely this will make it into the newspapers?
    Like virtually all RPUK articles, i don’t understand why they don’t get mass coverage..gun scarers, decoy harriers vet drugs etc.
    Although it is obviously only a battle rather than a war it is a massive victory.

    • June 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Meanwhile the best UK newspaper prefers to print an article on a gull which fell into some curry.
      Pinch me someone.

      • 44 crypticmirror
        June 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

        That gull article was class though. I agree this should be reported, but we all needed a break from the relentless doom and gloom of benefit cuts, disabled people dying due to those cuts, brexit, remainers, berniebros, trumpettes, hillarites, BoJo, Cambo, the new season of Brooklyn 99 being nine months away, and the telly about to be overrun with sports that nobody watches for the summer. That gull really lifted everyone’s spirits. Bless that gull, we needed that.

  24. June 10, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Like Jack Snipe I see this as a step in the right direction but there seems an inherent contradiction in giving the lease to another grouse hunting operation. Is grouse shooting viable in the absence of raptor control? The worst case scenario is that in 2019 we could be back to square one watching disturbing footage from this same location. Surely a bit of imagination is needed here to find a use for this land which doesn’t involve whole-scale destruction of wildlife?

    • 46 Andrew
      June 11, 2016 at 1:33 am

      Any suggestions as to what might provide a similar income – build some houses, a wind or solar farm???

      • June 12, 2016 at 12:59 pm

        Umm tourism. Ever been to Mull? Is that you Mr. Gilruth.
        Please quote an independent source for your cited ‘income.’ A source which includes subsidies, tax haven loss, CO2 emissions, environmental damage, the social and monetary loss of the killing of re-introduced birds, the pricelessness of wildlife etc.. Without an independent peer reviewed source it is just GWCT propaganda.

  25. 50 Steve Sedgwick
    June 10, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Well done NT
    This sends a strong message to those that support the killing of raptors

  26. 51 Ben D
    June 10, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I’d urge those commenters seeking a ban on shooting altogether to be careful what they wish for. A huge amount of scientific evidence points to predation by generalist predators limiting populations of ground-nesting birds (including Hen Harriers, waders etc). Current land-use mosaics seem to require gamekeepering in order to support decent populations of ground-nesting birds. If you don’t believe this then you need to get out in the countryside more.

    I am not a shooter personally and don’t understand the attraction. I also feel little warmth towards the ‘types’ that are involved in the activity. However, I love wildlife and as such I accept that by controlling foxes, crows, stoats and the like gamekeepers are helping ground-nesting birds to breed. It is not ‘no gamekeepers’ that we want. It is simply gamekeepers who work within the confines of the law. So, be careful what you wish for…

    • 52 Stewart Love
      June 10, 2016 at 11:31 am

      MMMM, Gamekeepers who work within the confines of the law?????? Think they are as rare as a Hen Harrier on a grouse moor.

      • 53 heclasu
        June 12, 2016 at 2:12 am

        On an ENGLISH grouse moor please! I have had the pleasure of knowing and being friends with a very enlightened gamekeeper who truly loved all wildlife. So, not ALL are bad! Coming from me, that is truly saying something!

        • 54 heclasu
          June 15, 2016 at 1:53 am

          Mind you, I should perhaps temper that by stating that his colleague was – and still is as far as I can tell – a complete arsehole! Not happy unless he was killing something! Used to sicken us both.

          • 55 Jack Snipe
            June 16, 2016 at 2:15 am

            You may have been right on this occasion heclasu, but I learned many years ago never to trust any gamekeeper. One particular chap used to try to pull the wool over my eyes and convince me that he would never break the law or kill any animal needlessly, but one day I ‘scoped him hiding behind his land rover, shooting Jackdaws off a power cable! He may not have been breaching wildlife legislation (unfortunately), but his foolhardy actions with a rifle could have cut off the electricity to a nearby village! The same gamekeeper claimed he had a pair of harriers nesting on the land he was managing “to help the harriers,” but I investigated thoroughly and found nothing. I could be suspicious that he had shot the birds, but my suspicion just led me to believe they had never existed in the first place. It was very atypical habitat. Bullshit is top of the list on his CV.

    • 56 AlanTwo
      June 10, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Ben D – I never like having to disagree with someone who is clearly on the same side, but I think you may have bought into the shooting industry’s propaganda too much. Most of our upland wildlife occurs in other European countries where is has co-existed with a wide range of predators (in many cases a wider range than we have here) perfectly successfully for centuries without ‘help’ from gamekeepers.
      With any abrupt change in management there are bound to be winners and losers. But it would be wrong to assume that the sky will fall in if gamekeeping stopped – in spite of what gamekeepers endlessly tell us!

    • 57 Apus apus
      June 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      I wonder how ground nesting birds survived before the introduction of nature’s number one friend – the gamekeeper?

      I would also take the risk of a reduction of this group of birds for no gamekeepers and a more natural landscape of scrub/woodland.

    • 58 Doug Malpus
      June 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Wildlife has survived millennia without gamekeepers it should go that way again. Prey and predator balance will always be achieved naturally, when given the chance. When prey numbers decrease, the predators die, when that happens the prey thrive, on and on, again and again, tock follows tick (sorry, oops!).

      Gamekeepers are driven by profit grabbing bosses and obey orders to exterminate predators. Along with the Victorian attitudes to predators, instilled into them across the ages, gamekeepers are mostly bad news. I have yet to hear of an ecologically aware and working gamekeeper.

      Working within the confines of the law, does not help, bird scarers, moorland events to create disruption and probably much more.

      • 59 dave angel
        June 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        ‘ Prey and predator balance will always be achieved naturally’

        Not if the apex predators are missing and the habitat is degraded.

    • June 10, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Ben it’s a wonder how the rest of the world survives isn’t it.
      We are truly exceptional.

    • 61 Secret Squirrel
      June 10, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      The general predators are attracted by the unatural abundance of prey species

  27. 62 Mo Richards
    June 10, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Well done the National Trust and RPUK . This is a massive step for NT but only a small step in the greater scheme of things. They should be banning all shooting on their land. Imagine that message being sent out! So only a small step but a great result.

  28. 63 SOG
    June 10, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I’m taking a guess or two here. The NT probably needs the money from a shooting lease to help support its maintenance of the property. Would they be open to an approach by a non-shooting group, who tried to match any bid? It’s the sort of scheme where crowd funding could work, but would need a respected person or organisation to front it.

  29. 64 Roderick Leslie
    June 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

    The assumption that ground nesting birds need keepering is undermined by the original spread of Hen harriers themselves: the first factor in the recovery of Hen Harrier was the removal of keepering during WW1. A second, and crucial, factor was new afforestation: the young plantations had two vital attributes – the removal of grazing and therefore much larger vole prey supply and the virtually complete (apart from desultory fox control to appease neighbours) removal of keepering. The retreat of the Hen Harrier in England coincided with the loss of this habitat as the trees grew and extensive new planting stopped. So the idea moorland ground nesters depend on keepering really does need questioning.

  30. June 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Well done National Trust and RPUK ! Does anyone know the respective proportions of privately owned and operated grouse shoots set against those which are held under a tenancy ? Details of some of the latter arrangements would be even better. For example the Duchy of Lancaster used to operate such a tenancy system. I suppose reading “The Field” and similar magazines might provide some results via the adverts?

    Whilst the RSPB have a close relationship with United Utilities in the Forest of Bowland the latter still operate shooting tenancies on their land. A clear example of where persuasive pressure might be applied if RSPB are disposed towards doing so. You can probably see where I’m coming from already!! This latest decision has a long way to run if used positively. A campaign aimed at landlords offering shooting tenancies being approached with requests to amend their future leases would be a big step in some ways. Any refusal immediately provides evidence of intransigence and the preferred embracing of tradition. By contrast, I’m damned sure it would also be seen as a frustrating deterrent to those who wished to carry on in a “traditional” fashion. A pipe dream? Possibly, but worth considering? I’d be interested to hear what others thought. thank you.

    The banning of grouse shooting outright will take a very long time to achieve in my book given it’s a punt against the Establishment. Restrictive shooting tenancies might produce some results in a shorter time period which we’ve to set against a complete impasse situation at present . OK it might demand hardliners gritting their teeth in opposition , but it could result in some progress set against none at present when it comes to the breeding population of Hen Harrier in England. Given it appears there are none in England this year we are now talking of restoring a population not improving it. I have to confess , at my age, given I’ve been involved in harrier conservation for decades , I’d like to see some progress being made however unlikely the source solution might be !! I doubt any solution will be perfect. Sadly at the moment there doesn’t appear to be any practical solutions on offer. One amended lease doesn’t make a perfect solution ; many might go some way towards easing the persecution “burden” and possibly allow a greater concentration of effort on identifiable hotspots of bad practice. This problem ( raptor persecution ) was the first official exposure I had to trying to secure improvement ( with North West Water Authority ) for breeding harriers………in 1979……and we’re still talking around the same old !!! However idealistic we might wish to be there comes a time to make choices. Given we’re immersed in little more than endless discussion on the matter this latest decision comes as a breath of fresh air, at last!

    • 66 Carole
      June 10, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      I think a campaign (polite and factual) to landowners offering shooting tenancies would be another way forward. A draft lease agreement putting down parameters for operation which would cover raptor protection, less burning (or changing to cutting), no drains etc could be put forward to landowners with a proviso to end the lease if any breaches occurred. If there was a list of all landowners letting shooting rights with the dates when leases came up for renewal, then they could be approached beforehand with the draft lease agreement. Their response would be informative and those that are anti could be watched more carefully. It might separate the sheep from the goats (if there are any sheep!). Perhaps the new NT lease agreement could be a starting point?
      Let me say, I agree with those that say that there should be no shooting for sport on National Trust land and preferably not in National Parks either. But at least the NT has taken a step in the right direction. I realise that they inherited at least some of the shooting tenancies with the land they acquired but these should be let lapse when they come up for renewal.
      In any case, those that care about the environment should accumulate more information about these landowners and hold them to account. I hope Andy Wightman and his Scottish colleagues make more progress with land reform. We should have vicarious liability in England, Wales & NI as well. We are lagging behind Scotland. I am saddened for instance that there is still no action to prevent land being owned through dubious offshore shell companies especially since the Panama papers revelations.

      • 67 Jack Snipe
        June 11, 2016 at 10:59 pm

        A significant problem with your first suggestion, Carole, is that grouse shooters already maintain that uncontrolled harrier populations are incompatible with commercially viable grouse shooting. So if you change other management practices to reduce environmental damage, this would result in lower grouse productivity, thus dropping the commercial viability even further. In effect, the grouse industry has therefore admitted that sustainable management of grouse moors is not possible in economic terms. Some of us have realised this for a long time, hence the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting. There really is little point in seeking a compromise, as appears to be the RSPB’s preferred option.

        I’ll be surprised if we don’t see the interested parties coming together more closely and committing huge sums of money in an attempt to resist the direction in which this National Trust decision could lead. For this we should be prepared on all fronts, and my personal view is that the embryonic ‘Raptor Liberation Front’ should not call off their planned protest activities on and around the glorious twelfth. I’ll say again what I’ve said before, a significant part of the solution to all this prevarication is for RSPB to accept the facts and join the wider campaign to end grouse shooting, not just driven grouse shooting, for all the right reasons. The possibility of changing the game overnight could be in their hands.

        • 68 Mike Mills
          June 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

          Hear, hear Jack Snipe. Yet again I bow to your knowledge and wisdom in assessing both the ecological,social and political background. I’m sure I speak for many in sharing your frustration and valuing your hard one experience – please continue, I find your view every bit as good as this RPUK vehicle that it rides upon. Thank you.

  31. 69 Concerned UU customer and bird lover.
    June 10, 2016 at 11:24 am

    A massive ‘well done’ to all concerned for their Sterling efforts aimed toward a total ban on driven grouse shooting and the slaughter that goes hand in hand with this Medieval practice. It’s as bad as shooting Cecil the lion, or anything else that stands very little chance, if any of actually escaping those bastards with guns, who get their thrills from their kills. I hope alarm bells are ringing in the upper circles of United Utilities to see this as the way forward and take some form of action to assist in the recovery of some of the magnificent Bird of Prey, who are now hunted to almost extinction in areas such as the Forest of Bowland, where the lesser black backed gulls have now been added to their ‘hit-list’ as recent pictures have shown. Clay Pigeon Shooting is how to hone their skills if these toff’s insist on shooting, not live targets… unless of course they all have one big shoot-out against each-other. #SportMyArse

  32. 70 George M
    June 10, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Excellent RPUK .. and well done NT. Jack Snipe’s warning should bed taken seriously however as I strongly agree that the perverse form of masculinity that many gamekeepers associate with breaking the law in relation to raptors will take some time to break i.e. bragging rights. Not that it takes too much given the new technology available to them and the fact that many of those charged with policing the raptor protection laws drink in the same pub and attend the same lodge.

  33. 71 Nigel Raby
    June 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Well done to the National Trust

  34. 72 Bamboo
    June 10, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Great positive result! And hopefully many more to come. The Moorland Association are embarrassing themselves and are complete liars. Absolutely shocking !!! Any decent organisation will admit any faults and failings and strive to make the future better. Not them!

    • 73 Watcher
      June 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      This action by the NT is to be welcomed as a very positive action but I also share the reservations expressed by Jack Snipe above and the fear that ANY grouse shooting activity will inevitably lead to predator control, including birds of prey.

      With this momentum from the NT and their clear statement of intent for shooting tenants on their land in the Peak District can anything be done to increase pressure on Yorkshire Water, another corporate land owner in the PD on whose land truly shocking levels of predator control, including birds of prey, are practiced?.

      Most comments on these pages usually bring in United Utilities,, who as the owner of large areas of the Bowland moors is understandable, but Yorkshire Water get little in the way of pressure from conservationists and raptor enthusiasts despite owning significant grouse moors with the attendant raptor persecution on them.

  35. 74 Andrew Cockroft
    June 10, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Well done the National Trust brilliant news

  36. 75 Mike Whitehouse
    June 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Well done the National Trust brilliant news for the Peak District. I hope that this is the first domino to fall. Would it be possible for the Yorkshire Dales to be the 2nd domino, please?

  37. June 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    This is fantastic news! Well done the NT for taking a stand. The opposition is not an easy bunch to face.

  38. 77 Ian Bradbury
    June 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    It is good, but ought to be uninteresting, that the Trust recognises its responsibility not to allow criminal activity on its land. What is less good is their continuing obsession with grouse monoculture and the ‘preservation’ of this badly damaged landscape.

  39. 79 Nick Moyes
    June 10, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    I learnt the wonderful news very this early morning, just after waking to the sound of a curlew flying high overhead, and whilst on a wild bivvi on the extreme eastern side of the Kinder Scout plateau in the Derbyshire Peak District. I’d come (unofficially) to look at the contrast in management and moorland restoration occurring on the western and eastern sides of the Kinder plateau. It’s clear that intensive moorland burning on deep peat is still occurring within this part of the SPA/SAC, whereas further west there are gullies being blocked and extensive restoration ongoing. What a shameful contrast! I fear this will continue so long as there are any shooting butts within the Kinder Scout SPA/SAC, such as below Crooskstone Knoll (SK14408833). What I’d like to see as the next achievable step in the Peak District is a campaign to “Kick The Butts out of Kinder Scout”. I feel that if we can’t persuade the National Trust to clear them away from this iconic landscape, then we really have no hope anywhere else where the challenges are even greater.

    Down below in Edale, the Moorland Centre celebrates the Kinder Mass Trespass. I firmly believe that it’s now the gamekeepers and the shooters who are themselves the trespassers in this habitat, and whose activities are damaging to this precious and important moorland landscape.

  40. 81 Paul noakes
    June 10, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Please make it obvious and clear who to contact at the National trust to try and persuade them to stop leasing their land for Grouse Shooting but to use if for wildlife conservation instead. I believe it is

    jon.stewart@nationaltrust.org.uk.

    What the National Trust has done so far is good but does not go far enough.If everyone campaigns on this maybe some more changes will take place.

  41. 82 SOG
    June 10, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    That NT linky doesn’t work as a clicky, but does as cut and paste. I feel old.

  42. 83 against feudalism
    June 10, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Well done to National trust, for listening to ALL those involved in raptor protection. Saddened that the lease cannot be instantly terminated, but contracts may prohibit ? If the ‘have’ to re-let as grouse shooting…. and I see no good reason…. then amend any contract to any breach allows instant termination !

    I am with Jack Snipe on this, and do not believe that grouse shooting, and any form of conservation will ever work together. I did search ” Mark Osborne “, and it is disturbing ! have a read,

    http://www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/Shooting-Grouse/grouse-religion-at-glenogil.html

    I am unsure about the legality of deer fencing miles of the hills, how does that sit with our ‘right to roam’ in Scotland ? The hidden subtext is to kill everything with tooth or claw, and there seems to be a lot of persecution in, around and on estates he ‘manages’ ?

    I think the National Trust ( and all national parks ) needs to replace game keepers, with game wardens. What the shooting estates call vermin, I call our wildlife.

    Well done to RPUK for all your work.

  43. 84 The small print guy
    June 10, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Firstly, this incident is abhorrent.

    Secondly, a few comments for consideration;

    The NT are taking the right decision terminating the lease of an uncompliant tenant. However, there are several variables here.

    Grouse moor management is so important to the future of our uplands and the most obvious outcome of the latest offence is that those who genuinely care (and there are plenty!) put up their hands to take on this lease!! One tenants mismanagement can be rapidly rectified (the other grouse/raptor benefits will be present now, so strike whilst the iron is hot). A couple of successful breeding seasons later, different picture.

    As a community, the upland owners/gamekeepers/access takers are first port of call for any information. Why can this not be extended to pointing the right tenants in the right place and vetting such applicants! The comments about grouse moor managers not being on the same page as the wider populace is a sweeping statement and not representative.

    There are plenty deeply into peatland restoration, wading bird conservation and raptor breeding success, but sadly in places, old fashioned attitude still prevail. I say, carry on persecuting the criminals and I sincerely believe in a few years, we will have a sustainable grouse/upland management system in place.

    Those who participate in this forum have a lot of credit to take for how far we have got, but let’s not forget, collaboration with those law abiding, encouraging occupants/employees is the only way to progress!

    Hope i’ve passed my message clearly. All the best,

    • 85 Doug Malpus
      June 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      If only we could find a trustworthy tenant????? The best way forward is a ban on grouse shooting and the hideous moorland management that goes with it. It would be many years to rid the land of the damage done to date and it continues. The shooting industry is farming it for profit and a natural moorland is against their idea of high grouse populations.

      Perhaps they moorland tenants and owners should be charged for the environmental damage they do? Issues like flooding, land degradation, poor bio diversity are mostly due to their mismanagement.

    • 86 dave angel
      June 11, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      The problem with that approach is that it’s pretty much apparent that commercial driven grouse shooting just isn’t compatible with the presence of hen harriers (and other raptors generally).

      The challenge therefore has to be, how do you best manage these areas for the benefit of wildlife without commercial grouse shooting, and how would any such plans be financed?

  44. 87 Merlin
    June 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Some excellent responses to some very welcome news, celebrate and enjoy the moment for this has been a long time coming, we know we’ll be let down many more times in the future but seize this moment to bask in the glory of this major victory.
    Massive thanks to Jon Stewart and his team for making this stance against the organised criminals that pollute our countryside, massive thanks to the boss, RPUK and Mark Avery for the huge amount of work they must put in, keeping the pressure on and keeping us so well informed.
    Few questions for other organisations involved in this but standing outside the fire
    Peak District national park authority, the national parks are supposedly a place where people can escape the noise of towns and cities, a place to visit for quiet reflection, if I was to visit and set up a few powerful amplifiers and start booming out some awful music how long would it be before you asked me to move on, why is there still a gas gun booming out over Broomhead estate and when are you going to grow a pair and make the owners remove this disturbance.
    Robert Benson, head of the Moorland Ass, recent incidents involving your members include the setting of illegal traps outlawed over a century ago, has this member estate resigned from your organisation yet which would be the honorable thing to do or if not at what point are you going to expel them (as again this would be the honorable thing to do) or is there no honor at all among our landed gentry these days.
    Countryfile, at what point will you be doing a feature on organised crime in the uplands, you have highlighted Salmon and Deer poaching blaming organised gangs from large towns and cities. Don’t forget E & D works both ways
    Martin (I have a dream of a promised land, Gamekeepers and conservationists walking hand in hand) Harper get off the fence mate it is not going to happen, back the Ban and instruct your members to do so
    BASC what are you doing for your members who are against all the shite being dropped on them from the Grouse shooting hooligans?

    • 88 JW4926
      June 11, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Merlin ……… thank you for a very, very uplifting comment. You have incorporated everything I would wish to say………

  45. June 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Several points need addressing. Keepers work for their lord and master hence why this Bop removal takes place. One estate had a ‘1 day notice’ for a keeper if he stepped out of line. If that estate said don’t kill the BOPs they would not have a chance in a court for unfair dismissal. Heather can be more destructive than ground predators. During the 2nd World war Golden Plover were lost on Geltsdale due to heather being too tall for Golden Plover to breed. As far as a new tenant the RSPB should take up the lease and use it to show how management should be done like here at Geltsdale. And then you might see Black Grouse on what was a moor managed for only Red Grouse which is the majority in Britain.

  46. 90 Dylanben
    June 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    The NT is receiving much deserved praise for its brave action in implementing the early termination of the shooting lease on this moorland. Would it be too much to ask that it takes the further step of ensuring that no more grouse shooting, with it’s associated (mis)management processes, is permitted on this land? There is almost two years before the end of the current lease for the appropriate conservation bodies to get their heads together to devise a management plan which would benefit wildlife and ensure that Hen Harriers had suitable breeding habitat. I resigned from the NT many years ago because of its stance on another wildlife issue. I would willingly re-join if I saw that the organisation was willing to take such a ground-breaking step. I would encourage others to support this suggestion. For a start, the RSPB already has experience in appropriate management measures as outlined by John above. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

    • 91 Ben D
      June 13, 2016 at 11:44 am

      In suggesting that RSPB take on management you are raising important points

      – the land requires managing if heather-rich moorland is to persist. Driven grouse moors typically take this too far, but NO management is also problematic
      – under current landscape mosaics, legal predator control is necessary (RSPB do this as part of their upland management)
      – the above costs money, charitable or otherwise

      There is a legitimate question about how the management of the uplands should be regulated and funded. Other non-shooting-based models could work (e.g. state subsidy). But it isn’t as simple as some on here seem to imagine.

      • 92 Dylanben
        June 13, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        I have not suggested that the RSPB should take on management of what is, after all, land belonging to another organisation. I simply stated that they already have experience of moorland management for other than driven grouse shooting purposes. I do, however, fully agree with the points you have made, these being the factors I had in mind when suggesting that there is time available to draw up plans for a more wildlife friendly management regime before the expiry of the current tenancy.

      • 93 Apus apus
        June 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm

        – the land does not require managing. Heather-rich moorland aka heather monoculture, is an artificial landscape. Not managing land is not problematic and will allow natural processes to occur.
        – with this in mind, predator control is not necessary
        – this costs no money!
        – just stop grouse shooting on NT land and the above can happen – it’s that simple!

        • 94 Jack Snipe
          June 18, 2016 at 11:41 pm

          Not managing land is problematic, Apus apus, as it is essentially about manipulating natural processes. Were a former grouse moor to be left to its own devices, it would gradually succeed to birch-dominated woodland and eventually a more diverse climax natural forest. In many cases I’d say this is desirable, except where rare features like Hen Harrier rely on the heather-dominated moorland and wide open spaces for foraging. Heavily sheep-grazed, degenerated grass moorland of poor ecological quality is more appropriate for such rewilding experiments.

          I don’t doubt for one moment that RSPB would do a far, far better job of managing retired grouse moors than the grouse shooting mob, but I’d be interested to see some examples of the “experience” they are alleged to have in this field. I’m aware of lowland dry heaths in some of their reserves, and appropriate management practices such as scrub control, but a vast area of dwarf shrub heath and blanket bog in the form of a grouse moor, I would suggest is not something of which they have a lot of experience. However no other conservation body I know of has any better experience, and I believe RSPB would be cautious enough to seek advice from the best quarters.

          But would they be brave enough to make the commitment? There are several inhibitory factors, with the commercial value of the land being one. Twenty, possibly even ten years ago, an upland grouse moor could have been purchased at a realistic price, but with the hugely increased wealth of the international super-rich, such land is now at a premium. Owning it enables rich people to have a playground for their killing sprees, but can make them even richer through tax concesssions and agri-environment grants, as well as storing an ever-growing capital investment. All managed through offshore tax havens to avoid paying any tax at all, of course. Even with its million members and presumably healthy bank balance, it seems unlikely that the RSPB could afford to purchase a grouse moor. This is why I’ve been arguing that it is important for publicly-owned land in national and regional parks to remain so. In Scotland already the vultures are hovering over the Land Reform Act.

          Ironically we are faced with this dilemma at a time when the future of the UK in the EU hangs at a balance. It may not be possible for much longer to obtain access to the magnitude of funding for environmental causes which are currently available through various European funded schemes. I’m not trying to be political here, but we have to face up to reality. The RSPB themselves have expressed this concern. Leaving the EU could be disastrous for nature conservation, partly because European Directives to protect wildlife and habitats would no longer apply, but also because the recent trend towards independent charitable trusts, being set up to manage land for nature conservation, would be cut off from a major source of funding. No doubt the ‘brexit’ advocates would claim that UK funding could be enhanced to make up for the shortfall, but I for one don’t believe that for an instant. Any financial savings are more likely to worm their way into the pockets of the already super-rich, who are firmly in control of our so-called democratic society.

  47. 95 Brian
    June 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    This is a Big Step in the right direction and statement from the National Trust,well done and to the People who spotted and reported this happening,it just shows what’s going on ,on some of our Uplands, and it certainly pays to be vigilant when out and about,as outlined by this case and also the pole trap case in the Yorkshire Dales.

  48. 96 Ben D
    June 13, 2016 at 11:29 am

    You can’t compare our landscape (fine-scale mosaics, ingressing blocks of forestry, upland pasture, pheasant and partridge releases etc) with the wide open landscapes of Scandinavia or the vole-free landscapes of Iceland and further north. Have a read of Douglas et al, Langholm or the Otterburn study. It’s not about buying into rhetoric, it’s about reading the science with an open mind.

    Those that say we don’t fully understand the impact of game bird releases make a fair point. Those that comment on the role of forestry of different age structures make a fair point. Those that say they’d accept a reduction in breeding waders etc in order to see the back of gamekeepers are at least being honest. Those that talk of ‘natural balance’ clearly have no understanding of just how ‘unnatural’ our upland landscapes are, not the socioeconomics of the uplands. I say again, if society wants an abundance of ground-nesting birds (and that is an ‘if’) then it needs to think very carefully about how that can be achieved, given existing landscape mosaics and socioeconomics.

    In my mind it’s very clear that gamekeepers *acting lawfully* can make a positive contribution to conservation outcomes which we would consider desirable. Whether it is possible to have a landscape full of active gamekeepers who ARE acting lawfully is an entirely different question. In my view, licencing, leases and subsidies which depend on certain conditions being met are more likely to result in desirable outcomes than alternatives (land abandonment, sheep grazing, more forestry).

    • 97 AlanTwo
      June 13, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      When I first read your comment, my initial reaction was how thoughtful, balanced and reasonable it sounded. Now that I have read it many times, I’m not so sure. I won’t go through it line by line (unless anyone is interested), but I will make some more general points.
      It is unusual for any system that has been in place for any length of tie to be wholly bad in every respect, so it is always possible to argue that tinkering and minor reforms are the safest way forward. However, attempts to make the grouse shooting industry behave better (or even just stay within the law) have been tried for decades and have essentially all failed. There comes a time when bolder action is needed, in the knowledge there will be risks involved. The abolition of slavery led to much suffering and socioeconomic upheaval, but it was simply the right thing to do – no amount of tinkering could make a fundamentally wrong system right.
      I’m tired of being told that because this or that landscape is very unnatural, no attempt must be made to make it a bit more natural. To me, precisely the opposite is true – we should constantly be looking for ways to enable more natural ecological processes to operate. I don’t think anyone is advocating intensive sheep grazing or blanket conifer afforestation as alternative management strategies to replace grouse shooting. It needs serious thought and discussion – let’s start work now.
      As I said in a previous post, with any change of management it is likely that there will be losers as well as winners. This must be faced – it’s not a good argument for retaining the status quo when the current situation is so dire.

    • 99 Doug Malpus
      June 13, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Fine words Ben. But our moorlands and other shooting estates are creating a monoculture, devoid of predators and other intrusive species. What for? Gun fodder (not food production), profiteering from the psychotic, entertainment and power.
      The shooting types have no concern for the overcrowded birds loaded with chemicals and shot with lead. Or the land polluted by tonnes of lead shot poisoning our waterways.
      It would seem from reports here, my own experiences and many other places that lawful gamekeepers are as rare as hen’s teeth.
      Yes, our landscape is unnatural but if left alone then nature will prevail, it may not return to its untampered state but certainly to a natural state.
      Langholm did not do the hen harriers any favours but observant and sympathetic eyes controlled, to some extent, the evil intent on the moors.
      To conclude, I am sick of the cruelty and tampering by a so called “elite” that basically have not a clue about nature and natural order. I once said the pheasants could be killed (by gamekeeper and/or beaters), catapulted over the heads of the shooter, shooter firing blanks, resulting in 100% kill rate, no lead shot scattered around or in the meat. This still doesn’t get rid of the medication or crowded monoculture. The shooters, would mostly not notice the difference (the gun went bang!), would be able to brag about how many they killed and drink and eat all the hospitality they have paid for.

    • June 13, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Ben D. you wrote ‘You can’t compare our landscape (fine-scale mosaics, ingressing blocks of forestry, upland pasture, pheasant and partridge releases etc) with the wide open landscapes of Scandinavia or the vole-free landscapes of Iceland and further north.’
      This is a huge generalisation. Scandinavia is massive, Norway and Sweden have many areas that are very similar to the UK uplands and many areas which have much more of a mosaic of habitats. Denmark has lowland heath. No two countries are entirely identical so i’m not sure of your point. That we are somehow outside the scheme of things sounds like a very poor Brexit kind of excuse for extremely bad and often illegal land practice.
      Sorry to go on about this, other RPUK readers, but i spent 10 days walking in Hardangervidda National Park in Norway and within hours realised that everything i had heard about the Scottish uplands from the grouse lobby and even the RSPB was pure propaganda. Scotland in comparison has no wilderness, no diversity and very little wildlife; England isn’t even on the charts. But i only saw one small covey of Willow Grouse in 10 days. I saw how utterly beautiful Scotland should be and have never been able to look at a moorland in the same way since. Norway has heather but it isn’t a monoculture. They even hunt on Hardangervidda too. So i question entirely your premise ‘if heather-rich moorland is to persist’.
      It is just plain egocentric to claim that the UK is the only country in the world that needs intensive moorland management.
      I am sure that massive changes would need to occur because we have no wilderness left and we appear to have become dependent on grouse management. But that would be the challenge, to start conserving waders in their own right not as a by-product of a corrupt industry. We would have to give the uplands better protection to stop other environmental forms of damage but the grouse lobby likes to think in either-or binary because it suits their agenda. We would have to come up with new ideas and solutions.
      A scientific approach would be to try an experiment of managing moorland without grouse and see if what the grouse lobby claim is true or not. Not just removing gamekeepers off a grouse moor and seeing the short term changes (a passive – negative experiment) but a more active – positive, holistic long term experiment with a conservation based management plan. It would be a real challenge but surely the UK can’t be so uniquely useless.
      I am one of those who feel that a reduction in ground nesting birds is a price worth paying to see raptors and other predators once more in the upland but i am sure there must be ways to increase ground nesting birds with other conservation methods and by non-grouse only, gamekeeper habitat management so that those losses may not occur and could even be improved upon. Eventually i would hope that human interference could by and by reduced to make way for true rewilding.

      You also wrote ‘Have a read of Douglas et al.’
      Please give the full ref for Douglas et al. and i will try to check it.

      Thompson et al. 2014 which has Douglas as a co-author
      http://www.bou.org.uk/bouproc-net/uplands/thompson-et-al.pdf
      concludes
      ‘Certainly, legal control of generalist predators and good habitat management for grouse can benefit some priority birds and other species. However, the routine and continued illegal killing of birds of prey, the questionable killing of mountain hares (for the purposes of controlling louping ill, a disease that can kill grouse), and the increasingly intensive burning of blanket bog and other carbon-­‐rich deep peat habitats, often on Sites of Special Scientific Interest and/or in drinking water catchments, cast a long shadow over the environmental credentials of grouse moor management.’

      and Thompson et al. 2016 which has Douglas as a co-author
      http://www.nflg.co.uk/files/RSPB%20Grouse%20Shooting.pdf
      ‘Red Grouse shooting as currently practised has some environmental benefits, notably for maintenance of Heather moorland and some ground-nesting birds, especially waders. However, there is growing evidence of negative environmental impacts and societal costs associated with increasingly intensive management practices, many of which are not usually factored in to studies (e.g. Sotherton et al. 2009) of the economics of driven grouse management. Overall, there is increasing evidence that driven grouse shooting is incompatible with requirements for the hunting of Annex II species (e.g. Red Grouse) under Article 7 of the EU Birds Directive, including the principles of wise use and requirement not to jeopardize conservation efforts ‘

      • 101 AlanTwo
        June 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

        Thanks, AP – you’ve provided the sort of detail that I shied away from including.
        The shooting lobby are expert at cherry-picking and distortion of evidence in order to sound a bit like reasonable people – you have to keep a ton of salt close to hand at all times.

        • June 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm

          Thanks.
          I for one would have enjoyed reading you going ‘through it line by line’

          The binary way of thinking of the grouse lobby, judging by the comments of those papers i quoted, is slowly slowly shifting.
          Martin Harper is standing where Mark Avery stood only 10 ears ago when he apparently said
          ‘If it weren’t for intensive land management for grouse shooting, large areas of the British uplands would be much the poorer for birds – for example, grouse moors are good for golden plovers and curlew. And grouse moors have protected large areas from conifer plantations and excessive grazing by sheep.’
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3633779/Marshals-of-the-moors.html
          So something is changing but the grouse lobby are living in the past.
          They remind me of climate change deniers who come up with banal statements like ‘climate has always changed’ as though that had never occurred to the climate scientists.
          Mark is an intelligent evidence based man, and as he discussed in Inglorious, he hasn’t changed his mind on a whim.

  49. 103 Tudor Jones
    June 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    marvellous news

  50. 104 alan
    July 10, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    similar situation here in yorkshire dales,we own a moor but theNT own the sport over it & have had a tenant for many years on a “not for profit” none comercial lease & have charged a peppercorn rent to reflect that.However recently they have overstepped the mark with their attitude(forgeting they are guests on our land)the main issue has been quad bike access to the point of turning our moor to a mud bath,erecting new butts without permission etc etc.NT have tightend up their lease to which they threw it up & walked away,HURRAY.However the NThave spent the last 18 months bending over backwards to let them back on.They only let them have 3walked up days on their own land 2000 acres.But 4 days driven on our land 1000 acres!! because it causes issues for their tanants but we have to grin & bear it.They say if we have any more problems they will teminate the lease, but this just goes to show they try to keep every body happy rather than putting WILDLIFE & THE ENVIRONMENT first.they have even ignored ENGLISH NATURES advice not to let them back on for the “foreseeable” future till the land recovers,so I think I will have to persue compo.

  51. 105 Lorna Bett
    August 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I applaud the National Trust for this stance. I hope others follow suit. No matter what the arguments are, the bottom line is that magnificent birds of prey, some endangered, are being killed to allow money making on what is pathetically called a ‘sport’.


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