Favourable weather conditions helped to deliver a successful grouse shooting season on North Yorkshire’s moorland estates, moor managers report.
A full shooting programme was made possible throughout the season which is now over, leaving organisers to profess the importance of grouse shooting to remote rural communities.
The North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation said the season had delivered “economic, environmental and social benefits”, saying the practice was “a lifeline for many local businesses in North Yorkshire”.
The group’s grouse moor managers report that 200 driven shoot days were hosted throughout the four-month season on estates across the North Yorkshire region, up 23 per cent on last year.
They said that an estimated 1,000 workdays of additional employment have been provided this season, twice as many as last year for those who assisted on shoot days, including beaters, flankers, loaders, pickers-up and caterers.
The organisation also reports that there has been a strong level of repeat bookings particularly from the UK market as well as a high-level of international groups visiting, with parties from across Europe including Sweden and France.
This year’s improved harvest also increased the availability of fresh grouse being supplied to local butchers, farm shops and game dealers, which the organisation said greatly enhances the awareness of grouse as a sustainable food source with hoteliers, top chefs and home-cooks now choosing grouse as a delicious, healthy and affordable game meat alternative.
Butchers in North Yorkshire have sold more grouse this year, sourced locally from estates within the region, the group said.
Richard Waind, butcher at S Waind & Sons in Kirkbymoorside, said: “We have been receiving dressed grouse from local estates in North Yorkshire this season and have developed grouse sausages and burgers which have been a real hit with the public, along with whole grouse birds which have also sold well.
“Grouse is a low-fat healthy meat offering a rich flavour and it is fantastic that consumers are now eating far more consciously by choosing game produce in season.”
Tina Brough, of the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation, added: “We have witnessed a good year with most of our estate members welcoming both domestic and international visitors right into the final weeks of the season.
“The grouse industry is a lifeline for many in our rural community offering employment opportunities and supporting many local businesses, with shooting-related tourism bolstering trade during the winter ‘off-season’.”
A full grouse shooting season is dependent on how well wild red grouse breed in the spring.
The season extends from August 12, known as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, to December 10 each year.
There are 45 full-time keepers employed on estates across the North York Moors and on average each grouse moor employs around 23 extra people per shoot day.
Grouse shooting continues to provoke fierce debate. Supporters say moors mana-ged for red grouse are shown to be better than other land uses in maintaining heather-dominated habitat, while some conservationists argue that moorland management for grouse shoots has a negative impact on the environment and leads to persecution of predators such as hen harriers.