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  1. ITV Report

Grouse season begins

The Grouse season is underway, traditionally the season begins on the 12th August but as shooting isn't allowed on a Sunday it falls on the 13th this year. The Grouse season is incredibly important for the local economy as Alex Hogg the Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association explained to ITV Border:

Alex Hogg on the Scottish Border's hills Credit: ITV Border

"The shooting season is very important to the local economy, it brings in more than £30million nationally each year. It is such a special day, the keepers look forward to it. We work hard in the run up to the day and to get up on the hill with the heather and the dogs, it makes for a fantastic day out."

– Alex Hogg, Chairman Scottish Gamekeepers Association

However Joe Duckworth from the League against cruel sports disputes this claim, he said:

"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, League Against Cruel Sports

The organisation is particularly concerned about this years shoot and it's affect on Grouse numbers. The bad weather has seen a drop in the number of the birds on the moorlands. Joe says the lower Grouse numbers will lead to a higher percentage being killed this year which could harm their long term recovery.

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

"There is nothing glorious about this blood sport.

"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, League Against Cruel Sports

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.

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."

– Robert Benson
A shooting enthusiast Credit: Scottish Land and Estates

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents over 2,500 landowners in Scotland, has celebrated the grouse shooting season. They say despite the mixed picture in terns of bird numbers, country sports enthusiasts have dusted off their guns and headed to the hills to try and bag a brace.