Good grouse numbers expected ahead of Glorious Twelfth

Photo: Guy Carpenter.

Grouse shooting estates in the Yorkshire Dales are hopeful of a good season, which begins tomorrow with the traditional Glorious Twelfth.

A mild, dry winter has meant the majority of red grouse survived to breed in the spring.

Adrian Thornton-Berry, from Swinithwaite-based estate managers Farmoor, said they were hopeful of a good season.

He said: “We’ve had a good spring. It was a fairly dry winter so most of the grouse through which is good news.

“I think prospects are reasonable to good.”

Adrian said there also looked to be good numbers on the moors of non-game birds such as curlews.

Duncan Thomas, British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) North director, added: “All looks well for the season.

“Most Northern Moors enjoyed a decent stock left over and the spring counts were positive. We had an excellent hatch and the insect-rich damp humid weather in late May certainly helped boost the youngsters, with some good brood sizes.

“Alas, some near biblical wet weather for a solid week in June took some casualties, but it’s clear now that the valiant efforts of some late-sitting grouse have produced some late broods.”

The start of the grouse season comes amid a heated row about the future of the sport.

Last week, wildlife presenter Chris Packham called for an end to grouse shooting.

He labelled the sport ‘moorland vandalism’ and criticised gamekeepers for killing hen harriers.

This week, North Yorkshire Police appeal for information after a hen harrier nest on a moor near Ilkey was disturbed by men carrying guns.

The incident was partially captured on a hidden RSPB surveillance camera.

However, a recent study commissioned by a dozen grouse moors, and undertaken by Newcastle and Durham Universities which surveyed 18 moorland estates across England and Scotland between April and June this year, found some birds were flourishing.

It found 76 bird species on the grouse moors including 43 endangered ones.

In their preliminary results the researchers found equal numbers of birds of prey and owls where gamekeepers were most active compared with least active.