Retailer ditches planned sales of red grouse

A game keeper on the Atholl estate in Perthshire
A game keeper on the Atholl estate in Perthshire
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Marks & Spencer has abandoned plans to sell red grouse sourced from North Yorkshire estates this year.

Conservationists threatened to boycott the retailer over concerns about illegal killings of birds of prey on moorlands. The RSPB fears birds are persecuted because they predate grouse.

M&S became the first supermarket chain to sell grouse last year, stocking it in two of its London stores. It had plans to roll out sales more widely following the start of next month’s grouse-shooting season after 15 estates in North Yorkshire and the Scottish borders agreed to comply with a draft code of practice for managing their estates. The code is being drawn up with help from the RSPB and Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. But M&S has decided not to take grouse from the estates until it is independently confirmed that they are complying with the code.

An M&S spokesperson said: “We have been working with the RSPB and the Game Wildlife and Conservation Trust for some time to incorporate red grouse estate management into our industry leading Code of Practice for our game suppliers. 
“We have made good progress and we will continue with this work.”

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said the organisation would work with M&S to ensure that the code of practice was implemented swiftly.

“This is the first foray into the supermarket sector for our moorland estates and we need to get it right,” she added.