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WATCH: Glorious Twelfth

The annual grouse-shooting season got underway today.

It's known as the Glorious Twelfth, but it was anything but glorious as the calamitous winter weather has caused the worst breeding conditions for grouse in living memory.

No grouse means no shooting parties and no shooting parties mean a blow to the local economy so says the Moorland Association.

Paul Crone has this report from the Cumbrian uplands.

Glorious Twelfth, not so glorious

Glorious Twelfth Credit: PA

The glorious twelfth has proved to be anything but, on the opening day of the grouse shooting season.

The moorland association which is responsible for looking after over 1 million acres of upland in the UK says it is the most disastrous start to a season in living memory.

Grouse shooting summer Credit: ITV Border

The association says the appalling winter weather and poor summer has meant the numbers of grouse are extremely low and also other species of wildlife living on the moors have suffered.

There are areas where things are not quite so bad, but we are looking at many cancelled days. Reports indicate that there may be little shooting on Cumbria's moors or in the Peak District."

– Robert Benson, Chairman of the Moorland Association

Shap-based Mr Benson added that gloomy prospects would have a knock-on effect on local communities who relied on income generated from grouse shooting, but vital moorland regeneration and conservation work would carry on regardless.

Shap Fell in Cumbria Credit: ITV Border


'Nothing glorious about Grouse shooting'

The League Against Cruel Sports has said there's nothing glorious about Grouse shooting.

Joe Duckworth, the organisation's chief executive has raised concerns about this years shoot, the bad weather has seen a drop in Grouse numbers. He said:

"Lower grouse numbers will lead to a higher percentage being killed this year, possibly harming their long-term recovery.

"It beggars belief that a practice so barbaric in its entirety is allowed to continue in this day and age.

"Each year, from August to December, picturesque moorlands are invaded by groups of men and even children armed with guns, having paid for the pleasure of shooting and injuring thousands of terrified birds."

– Joe Duckworth

He also disputed the claim that the sport is worth millions to the rural economy.

"If this bloodsport were banned, the people who pay many thousands for the right to blast wildlife from the skies wouldn't simply stop spending their money. It would be spent elsewhere in the economy."

– Joe Duckworth

Praise for shooting industry

An enthusiast Credit: Scottish Land and Estates

Scottish Land and Estates, which represents over 2500 landowners in Scotland have celebrated the start of the grouse shooting season. They said despite a mixed picture in terms of bird numbers country sport enthusiasts dusted off their guns and headed for the hills to try and bag a brace.

They praised the grouse shooting industry for the tourism, environmental and economic benefits it brings – with many of these having an impact all year round.

Tim Baynes of the Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group said:

“It is clear that grouse shooting brings substantial economic benefits to Scotland – the most recent figures show this to be around £30million a year in monetary terms and the equivalent of 2640 full time jobs.

"Very many rural businesses depend on grouse shooting for the income it creates and these in turn enable fragile communities to survive through the creation of jobs, both direct and indirect.

“The other important factor is the ecological benefits the moorland management associated with grouse shooting brings.

"This means more diverse wildlife is supported and more carbon is captured, resulting in an improved ecosystem overall. We would like to see more recognition and support voiced by the government and other public bodies for grouse shooting as a valuable asset to Scotland”.

Grouse season kicks off

A Red Grouse in the heather Credit: ITV Border

The Grouse shooting season has begun across the country. Traditionally the sport begins on what is known as the Glorious 12th (of August). But as that fell on a Sunday when shooting is not allowed, the season began on the 13th this year.

But in Cumbria the start of the season has been far from glorious, all shooting on Shap moor has been cancelled because the wettest May and June on record have decimated grouse numbers.

Robert Benson, sporting manager of the Lonsdale Estate said:

"We were hit by rain in May. We had an inch of rain as the grouse chicks started to hatch and we've had excessive rain on and off since then.

"Hens that had hatched were unable to look after their chicks. Many nested again and their nests were flooded out, and in July the chicks that had survived were too big to shelter under the hens when the rain came again."

However shoots are taking place north of the Border in Southern Scotland. Grouse shooting brings millions of pounds into local economies.

Grouse shooting is the formula one of the game shooting world. The birds can travel up to 80 miles an hour and thousands of pounds are spent by enthusiasts who want the chance to take aim.