Sunday, 30 October 2016

Why we must ban Driven Grouse Shooting

What is driven grouse shooting? Where does it happen? Why is there a campaign to ban it?

If you are a birder or British wildlife conservationist, you would have to have been without internet in Outer Mongolia to not have some idea what this campaign is about. There's no need to repeat it.

Mark Avery is a nature conservationist and campaigner (  A few years ago he left the constraints of the RSPB and started his vocal campaign for the ban of this damaging multi-million pound business, where wildlife, habitat and flood protecting heathland is destroyed only for profit.

Why has this been allowed to happen and why has the government been secretly funding this carnage with £4 m in tax payers subsidies?  Those running these estates and shooting on them are the friends and relatives of our wealthy and privileged MP's.
At first, it seemed to me that many of the nature conservation groups stayed sitting on the fence and avoiding the risk of looking like anarchists. Talking about Hen Harrier persecution was OK but to be seen as being led by extremist activists was not. From this position, with the help of Chris Packham (watch his video, Mark Avery's almost one-man crusade has become something that almost all British naturalists and conservationists are now backing.

However, the RSPB still continues to back a system of licencing, even though this is unlikely to be effective taking into account the extreme level of criminality.  We can't see how driven grouse shooting is anymore beneficial to our countryside than paint balling and a lot more destructive and damaging.

Mark Avery started a petition, which had 123,077 votes ( which  states:

"Grouse shooting for 'sport' depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers."

The petition led to a compulsory parliamentary debate due to take place tomorrow 31 Oct 2016 at 4.30 pm, but only after a totally biased government response.

I added my voice to the campaign by making a submission to the Parliamentary Commission for Petitions with the main theme being "You are only custodians of our wildlife at this time"

"Written submissions from Miss Mya-Rose Craig (GRO0510)

My Name is Mya-Rose Craig and I am 14 years old. I live just south of Bristol but regularly visit my grandmother in North Yorkshire, where we go walking in the grouse moors. I therefore have first hand experience of these moors.

I care about nature and wildlife as well as considering myself to be a conservationist. I write a blog called Birdgirl and was a Bristol European Green Capital 2015 Ambassador.

I know that many experts and “not so” experts will have given evidence, but I wanted to give my thoughts as the generation coming up behind yours. You are only custodians of our wildlife at this time, after which you must hand that over to me and my generation.

I live in a farming area, where many of my friends/ families are farmers and I think I understand their needs very well.

The people that own the grouse moors are not farmers. They are not growing food or raising livestock to feed our country. They are businesses which own the land and use it only to make money for themselves."

I know that sometimes things happen because over a long time, things become ingrained. That is what has happened with grouse moors. However, as a young person, I strongly feel that when you are reviewing a system, you should look at everything again to make sure that it is fit for the future. Not 2 more years in the future but 20 years in the future.

In the UK we have very little of our natural habitat left, with forests having been cut down for farming and also for land owners to make money. If we were talking about any other country, we would be demanding that some deforested areas should be re-planted. That is what should happen on the grouse moors.

My understanding is that the grouse shooting of the past bears no resemblance to the industry that exists now. I believe that as a nation we will only succeed in living with the nature around us, if we prioritise our wildlife and give it due respect.

Grouse estates have proven that they can not stay within the law in terms of illegally murdering birds of prey as well as the disgusting (though legal) practice of killing every living thing on the moor. 

In addition there are other issues such as that the moors are causing flooding. I think that the issue of jobs is a secondary one and can be resolved by grants being awarded for job creation in these areas. It is certainly not a valid reason for keeping grouse moors.

I hope that you will give my view, as someone from the next generation, valid considering. I would really like to be seeing eagles and Hen Harriers flying over Britain when I am an adult.

This is the Guardian's recent article about the issue and secret subsidies to the super-rich

This is the letter my Dad received from our conservative MP last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg. This is someone who lives in an alternate world where it's normal to shoot birds and animals and rip foxes apart for fun.  However, the first part of this letter is astounding in how stupid it is and I really hope that he doesn't turn up for the debate tomorrow.

"I do not oppose grouse shooting because it is one of the most delicious game birds. I feel it would be hypocritical to support banning something that I enjoy eating"

1.  Liking something is no justification for it being available to you. If you like the look of ivory, does that mean it should be legal to shoots elephants in Africa to meet your desires?
2. Anyway, you would only be banning driven grouse shooting and so could eat grouse that has been shot without beaters and also you could have free-range farms.

Letter from Mr Rees-Mogg MP to Chris Craig
Copyright Chris Craig

Whatever the result tomorrow, this is only the start of campaign that will win in the end and will bring back our Hen Harriers even if they are allowed to become extinct by our current uncaring government.

About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 14 year old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She organised a conference in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter


  1. I am just astonished at the total arrogance of the MP's reply to your dad in his justification for continuing driven grouse hunting. What total gormlessness--laughably shallow if it weren't about something urgent and awful. I remember wondering the same thing about collateral damage of non-game birds when visiting the Yorkshire Dales 18 months ago. The curlews in particular caused me concern, as they populate the same dales that the Lords from Southern England clomp over once a year with their accomplices. This feudalist past time is totally outdated, and I applaud your efforts in bringing it to an end.

    1. That is all terrible but I don't think things will change unless people stop voting for MP's who are only interested in their own interests. Obviously Mr Rees-Mogg could still eat Grouse that are shot in the actual sporting way rather than driven grouse moors.


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