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Grouse shooting under fire amid call for review

‘Glorious Twelfth’: Archie Ward hands gamekeeper Jack Turner the grouse he bagged yesterday at Rottal Moor in Kirriemuir, Angus PICTURE: GETTY

GAMEKEEPERS have defended grouse shooting following calls for a review into the practice.

Estate owners and gamekeepers said they were hopeful the new season will be better than last year, when weather hit breeding. Yesterday marked the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, the start of the 16-week period when hunters can shoot grouse on 550,000 acres of English and Scottish moors.

At Rottal Estates in Glen Clova, Angus, owner Dee Ward said he was fully booked for the next three weeks and ‘hopes are high’ after last year, when ‘grouse were out of condition when they came to breed and then we had very dry weather’.

Labour has called for a review amid warnings that draining land kills ‘huge swathes’ of plant life and animals, and claims that rare birds such as hen harriers are illegally culled. Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: ‘The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife need to be properly weighed against the benefit of land owners.’

But British Association for Shooting and Conservation spokesman Duncan Thomas, said: ‘Grouse moors are bio-diverse and shoots create vital jobs’.