Science 'could end deadlock' on grouse shooting

As the grouse shooting season begins today, ecologists said a model could be developed to explore a possible compromise solution between conservationists and the grouse hunters.

The hen harrier is a natural predator of the red grouse but the study suggests that under certain conditions a solution could be achieved where the birds could co-exist with the profitable sport of grouse shooting.

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Study: Hen harriers and grouse shooting 'can co-exist'

A recent study suggests that at certain population densities, hen harriers can co-exist with profitable grouse shooting.

Scientists have said this could be achieved using a simple approach, where when harriers breed at levels that have a significant economic impact on grouse shoots, the excess chicks would be removed from the grouse moors, reared in captivity and then released into the wild elsewhere.

Excess hen harrier chicks 'could be removed from the grouse moors and reared elsewhere'. Credit: PA Wire

The next step is for grouse managers and conservationists to use the results of the model to agree on an acceptable number of harriers and then test the idea in a field trial, the research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology suggests.

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Science 'could end deadlock' over grouse shooting

As the grouse shooting season begins today, ecologists said a model could be developed to explore a possible compromise solution between conservationists and the grouse hunters.

Today marks the start of the grouse shooting season. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The hen harrier is a natural predator of the red grouse but the study suggests that under certain conditions a solution could be achieved where the birds could co-exist with profitable grouse shooting.

The study, led by Professor Steve Redpath of the University of Aberdeen, involves grouse managers, conservationists and ecologists, and used science as a way to try and find a solution.

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