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Grouse shooting conflict solution 'found' as season opens

A possible solution to the conflict between grouse shooters and conservationists trying to protect the hen harrier has been found, according to a new study.

The grouse shooting season gets under way today, and campaigners have been calling for the sport to be banned because of a failure to curb the illegal killing of hen harriers - the red grouse's natural predator.

However, research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology shows that under certain conditions the birds of prey could co-exist with profitable grouse shooting.

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Grouse shooting conflict solution too 'interventionist'

A RSPB spokesperson has said the solution to the conflict between hen harrier campaigners and grouse shooters suggested by a new study should be attempted only once other "less interventionist" avenues have been exhausted.

The research, published by the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, says managing hen harrier numbers on UK moorland may allow the bird of prey to co-exist with commercial grouse shooting.

A brood management scheme may merit experimental investigation in the future, but only once hen harrier numbers have recovered to a pre-agreed level and less interventionist approaches, particularly diversionary feeding, have been widely attempted.

The authors suggest that there is room on English grouse moors to support 70 pairs of hen harriers with only minimal costs to landowners. We want to work together with the shooting community to resolve the conflict by using tried-and-tested methods such as diversionary feeding, until the apparent impact of that then requires an alternative approach.

– RSPB spokesperson

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