Poor shooting season to 
impact rural businesses

Red grouse numbers have been curbed by a hard winter followed by a very dry summer, which have inhibited the growth of their food, heather. (S)
Red grouse numbers have been curbed by a hard winter followed by a very dry summer, which have inhibited the growth of their food, heather. (S)

Businesses in Yorkshire will bear the brunt of a poor grouse shooting season, with an average of 75 per cent of shoot days due to be cancelled because of low stocks of red grouse, the Moorland Association has warned.

While the much-reduced shoot programme is a blow for country sports lovers, the organisation – which represents English grouse moor owners – says the real impact will be felt by local businesses in rural communities such asUpper Nidderdale, which rely on income generated by grouse shooting in the shoulder months of the tourist season.

Grouse shooting benefits rural businesses in England and Wales to the tune of £15.2m annually during the season, which this year runs between August 13 and December 10.

Hotels, pubs, restaurants, game dealers, contractors and other ancillary businesses are set to lose millions of pounds of revenue.

The Sportsman’s Arms at Wath, above Pateley Bridge, has already seen cancellations amounting to £30,000 and expects more to follow.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “The forthcoming season is likely to be very poor and short, but it is a timely reminder that the red grouse is a wild bird. We can only manage its habitat, but we cannot control the weather.

“The good news is that despite the poor shooting prospects, grouse estates across the country continue to invest a million pounds a week all year round in the conservation of the moorlands to the benefits of a wide range of flora and fauna, including vulnerable ground nesting birds such as the curlew, red grouse, merlin, lapwing and ring ouzel.”

Red grouse are wild birds and cannot be reared. The intense cold in February brought by the so-called Beast from East, followed by a prolonged drought, impacted the growth of heather, the red grouse’s principal food source, resulting in a shortage of birds.

Only when there is a surplus of red grouse can they be shot.