Grouse shooting vital part of Scotland’s fragile rural economy

Photograph by  PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL copyright 'Tel +44 (0) 7740444373''GLORIOUS TWELTH . PIC.''GAME KEEPER  CRAIG DICKMAN , AND PETER MACKINNON WITH HIS LABRADOR'S  PICTURED TODAY ON A GROUSE BEAT IN THE Lammermoor HILLS IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS.''CHECKING THE GROUSE NUMBERS BEFORE THE SHOOTING SEASON WHICH STARTS ON TOMORROW ON THE 12TH AUGUST.

Photograph by PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL copyright 'Tel +44 (0) 7740444373''GLORIOUS TWELTH . PIC.''GAME KEEPER CRAIG DICKMAN , AND PETER MACKINNON WITH HIS LABRADOR'S PICTURED TODAY ON A GROUSE BEAT IN THE Lammermoor HILLS IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS.''CHECKING THE GROUSE NUMBERS BEFORE THE SHOOTING SEASON WHICH STARTS ON TOMORROW ON THE 12TH AUGUST.

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Last Friday, the glorious 12th, saw the start of this year’s grouse shooting which has been estimated to bring £30million to the rural economy.

Sports lets agency CKD Galbraith has reported “particularly strong” demand for grouse shooting in Scotland, as this year’s season begins.

The company said teams of grouse shooters will spend an average of £10,000 to £15,000 for a day’s driven shooting.

However, poor weather conditions are reported to have reduced grouse numbers, although healthy grouse numbers have been recorded in the Lammermuirs.

Colin Shedden, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s Scotland director, said: “We had a hard winter this year but we had a hard winter the previous year and there were reports of grouse deserting grouse moors in large numbers, going down to the lower ground, but it didn’t adversely affect the breeding success of grouse in many areas the following spring, so they do seem capable of dealing with these long hard weather periods that we’ve had.”

Robert Rattray, a partner at CKD Galbraith, said: “Grouse shooting is a vital part of our fragile rural economy, both in terms of managing our vulnerable heather moorland and in providing a world-class venue for sportsmen. It also provides a valuable economic benefit, with the grouse industry as a whole in Scotland valued at £30million and supporting some 950 full-time jobs.”

One gamekeeper added: “Grouse shooting contributes to the local economy in more ways than we can imagine. Not only does it create revenue for the boss who puts a lot of money into the moor in terms of wages, equipment, facilities; but when the guns come to stay, they stay in the local hotels, they spend money in the local shops, and the local pubs also do well. It’s a big knock-on effect.

“Without the grouse shooting, a lot of things would suffer. The grouse are the main reason the landowners put the time and the money into these moors. And through doing that, everything benefits.”

A study by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University in 2010 indicated that a rise in shooting fees had contributed to the increasing profitability of sporting estates. It found that 42 per cent of them were turning a profit, compared with just two per cent 16 years ago.