Logan Steele’s letter (14
January), which alleges that driven grouse shooting is only viable with the persecution of birds of prey, particularly the hen harrier, is misleading.
First, official statistics demonstrate a clear decline in the number of incidents of raptor persecution.
Second, land management for driven grouse shooting delivers a huge benefit for other protected wildlife, especially waders, and sustains employment and communities in remote rural areas. This is something the suggested alternative of walked-up grouse-shooting would not do.
Of particular significance is clear evidence that where grouse and hence habitat and vermin management have declined in some hen harrier “special protection areas”, this has actually resulted in lower harrier populations, as well as declines in other species such as waders.
This is a more complex situation than some make out.
The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, set up in partnership with the government to bring back driven grouse shooting in the presence of sustainable numbers of hen harriers, is where the best hopes of progress on this issue lie.
Results at Langholm so far are that neither harriers nor grouse have recovered – not what anyone expected, but each year scientific understanding improves and a practical solution gets closer.
Making progress will involve compromise on all sides.
Organisations representing grouse moor managers such as Scottish Land & Estates are fully behind this process and it is unfortunate that RSPB has pulled out of the mediation process in England. Perhaps Scotland provides the best opportunity to make progress now.
Scottish Land & Estates