THE poor summer has led to a “large number” of estates having to cancel their grouse shooting this year - making a huge dent in the 40m-a-year business.
As the “Glorious Twelfth” approaches many shooting moors have been silenced by the weather and poor breeding and high chick mortality,
say top sporting letting agents.
Although the official grouse season lasts from mid-August to early December, in reality, shooting may only take place on a limited number of days for the first four to six weeks of the season.
Given the relentless cold and wet weather that has resulted in poor breeding and high chick mortality, a large number of moors have taken the “painful but correct” decision to curtail or cancel their grouse shooting programmes this year, resulting in a huge loss of revenue, according to Robert Rattray, partner at CKD Galbraith and head of the firm’s sporting lets department.
Mr Rattray said: “However it is certainly not doom and gloom everywhere. For other moors, relatively unaffected by the vagaries of the weather, it is business as usual. These moors can even take advantage of the situation if stocks allow, and book in additional parties displaced elsewhere.
“Grouse shooting is a fragile industry at the mercy of nature and commands a serious level of investment both financially and in terms of commitment from moorland owners. If the grouse shooting has to be cancelled, owners must hold their nerve and continue to invest despite the lack of income coming in from the shooting. The long term viability of the industry is totally dependent on this long term view of grouse management. Spending must continue despite the uncertainty of any rent coming back in.
“In complete contrast to this year, 2014 was one of the best seasons in living memory, producing record bags on many moors right across Scotland’s grouse moors. Unfortunately the scenario we find ourselves with this year is by no means uncommon, and demonstrates graphically the fickle nature of grouse shooting which can experience extreme highs and lows over very short time periods. Despite best efforts and huge investment, ultimately the weather is the master, and moor owners understand this uncertainty.
“The new Land Reform Bill, proposing an end to the exemption on rates for sporting land, would provide another unwelcome cost for many estate owners. Business rates have not been applied to sporting estates for over 20 years, and particularly in a year such as this, focuses the mind on the huge burden placed on estate owners managing Scotland’s moorland areas.”
Around 2.5 million acres is used for grouse shooting in Scotland, supporting 2640 full time jobs and providing 30.1 million in wages.
The economic contribution of all types of shooting and stalking in Scotland is estimated at about 200 million per year, with grouse shooting directly contributing approximately 40 million plus in a good grouse year.
Supporters say the management of grouse shooting directly benefits 57 bird species including Lapwing, Hen Harrier and Black grouse.
The grim Scottish weather has already had a knock-on effect for many other outdoor industries.
Last week Scots beekeepers said their hives were on the “verge of starvation” while Scotland’s National Farmers’ Union Scotland has warned that the wet summer may affect crops and livestock.
August 12, known as the “Glorious Twelfth”, is the first day of shooting season for red grouse across the UK.
Traditionally it is one of the busiest days of the season, with large numbers of birds being shot in celebration.