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Gearing up for the season

With the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ looming, many grouse moors across the North of England and Scotland will be looking forward to their first days. As well as putting the finishing touches to butts etc.  Gamekeepers will be reflecting on their hard work over the past twelve months and analysing their grouse counts and how they have compared with previous years to forecast the likely fortunes for the season ahead.

Reports to date appear patchy with prolonged wet weather and even some snow in late April/early May proving to be costly.

The weather is always the one thing we can’t control and whilst human intervention can significantly reduce the severity of the peaks and troughs naturally experienced in grouse numbers, they aren’t eliminated.

It is soul destroying for keepers who have worked tirelessly all year to manage the habitat in which these wild birds thrive for ‘disease’ to then strike.  It is equally frustrating for owners who have invested in the running the moor over the past year in anticipation of the forthcoming season, but it is vital that no shooting takes place if there is insufficient healthy stock, as this can have a huge impact on future years.

Local rural communities also suffer the peaks and troughs experienced by the grouse moors as shooting is vital to the rural economy. Not only does it provide a source of income for the usual shoot day helpers, but it also helps support local businesses.

A survey undertaken by Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) illustrated that shooting is vital to the rural economy and found that it supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs with Shooters spending an estimated £2.5 billion each year on goods and services. This survey illustrated that Shooting is a crucial means of investment in the rural economy.

Shooting is not only beneficial to the economy but also the environment as conservation is part of the job for a gamekeeper. It is very apparent that their work, with the backing of many landowners and shoot managers, contributes hugely to the conservation and management of both wildlife and habitat.

The survey suggested that Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area, with two million hectares being actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting. The survey found that Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation and Shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation – the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs.

Despite these tough economic times and further uncertainty following the Referendum, shooting will continue to contribute to the rural economy and the environment. However, it is extremely important that shoots continue to prosper and they must approach this season in a business-like manner. Safety is paramount and corners must not be cut although one must keep an eye on costs and perhaps look at new income streams, be it boundary days or rough shooting. It is also vital that quality and standards are maintained to ensure the future appeal of the shoot.

For further advice on shoot management or health and safety please contact:

[team-member name=”Phil Scott-Priestley”]

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