YP Letters: Shooting is vital to moors – but get tough on illegal activity

The moors above Leyburn - is grouse shooting good for the environment?
The moors above Leyburn - is grouse shooting good for the environment?
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From: PA Sherwood, South Kilvington, Thirsk.

THE recent Opinion columns in The Yorkshire Post (August 11) outlining the pros and cons of grouse shooting made interesting reading, especially as the debate was published on the eve of the start of the grouse shooting season.

A lot of sense was put forward by the Countryside Alliance spokesman regarding the management of moorland and of the financial and employment benefits to the rural economy.

I have friends who shoot, friends who beat, and friends who work on moorland. They generally agree that predatory birds and mammals are shot, and in some cases there is little concern as to the species.

Buzzards are regularly shot and yet there is no concrete evidence of them taking other birds, they, like kites, are scavengers, they are not killers.

North Yorkshire has the highest rate of illegal persecution of birds of prey, on the very rare occasions a prosecution goes to court almost nothing happens.

Until the law is changed and the head keeper, land agent or, better still, the owner of the moorland shoot is prosecuted, we will continue to see some junior under-keeper before the bench. Some young lad or lass on a fairly low salary will attract a derisory fine.

Some of these estates are now owned and run by colossal foreign wealth which should attract substantial fines, and the risk of a custodial sentence for repeat offences would soon get the problem under control.

Another point that the Countryside Alliance didn’t mention was the way in which huge swathes of moorland are becoming visually scarred by the increasing installation of access roads. These wealthy estates seem immune to planning controls, or possibly even buying their way through it.

On the other side of the argument, the Green Party spokesman fails to comprehend that grouse are wild birds. They are not reared for shooting, unlike the cruel (even to me) pheasant shooting, in which chicks and poults are hand-reared up to the end of September and then at the start of October as the birds run towards you for feeding, you blow their heads off!

All these ‘ban it’ organisations that Natalie Bennett refers to will do nothing to help conservation. Moorland needs managing. To bring in an income for management, it needs shooting. The shooting also assists the local economy, moorland would be unusable scrubland and of little use to anyone without good management. Pretty countryside doesn’t just happen.