It is impossible to ignore the emotive feelings raised in both camps, for and against, regarding grouse moor management for the practice of driven grouse shooting. In fact, all commercial scale driven shooting raises temperatures for those involved in this same argument and its hard to really determine the true objective reality of the impact, whether it be positive or negative, on the myriad of interwoven issues within which the activity occurs. Rural life, employment, financial impact, bio-diversity effects, climate change are just some of the areas that play active parts in the argument.
On the 21 June this year the UK Government debated a petition raised by Wild Justice to decide whether driven grouse shooting should be banned. A two hour debate ensued where MPs put forward their arguments, each staking their flags to any one of the areas mentioned above. Some fought for wildlife protection accusing grouse moor management of wilfully sacrificing all other species in preference for grouse, whereas others championed the local communities and their reliance on grouse shooting for livelihoods. If one were to read the transcript of the debate, whilst the pleas for each argument may have been impassioned and representative of the true beliefs of each representative it was hard, if not impossible, to determine the substance and evidence of much of what was raised. Thats probably true of all ‘debates’ as the underlying science and evidence often supports both camps. Furthermore, it appeared to me that the ‘whole truth’ was never really identified, probably because no one really knows what the impact will be on the remaining unchanged interrelated areas if any one component is altered. It was, however, decided that there wasn’t a sufficiently strong case to ban driven grouse shooting, and that if anything the case to continue was now stronger than when the issue was debated four years previously.
The future of driven grouse shooting and the related moor management however, may not be one that any MP or independent group will have any control over. Year on year driven grouse shooting has suffered heavy ‘losses’ not through any human involvement but rather nature. We have seen grouse shoots cancelled repeatedly, year on year, due to adverse weather conditions and more latterly COVID restrictions. 2021 doesn’t seem to be any different. Many estates are warning of poor breeding again this year due to hard frosts whilst birds were laying. These late frosts have also had a negative impact on honey bee colonies, many of which hadn’t fully recovered from a similar cold snap that occurred last year. There may come a time, if these issues continue to occur, that those invested in grouse moors decide it’s no longer viable to continue.
It’s undeniable that our climate is changing. The cause of the change is another topic heavily, and passionately, debated across the globe. The level of impact by man versus the natural cycles of the planet, that have occurred over the preceding 4.6 billion years, is an argument that is unlikely to claim a winner anytime soon. But maybe thats due to the fact that it’s a false argument to start with. Humans are not independent of the environment or the planet. As much as some believe that we are somehow separate and distinct from the environmental evolution occurring continuously on Earth, we are in fact merely a bit part player in a magnificent and dynamic play unfolding as time marches forward. There is no right or wrong act within this play, just the ad-libing by billions of contributors during their short part as a bit-part extra. We are certainly not the celebrity in this wonderful exhibition and when our part is over, other, as yet not even created, species will take up their position on the stage. We won’t even be remembered and our part will have no impact on the final closing scene, 4.6 billion years in the future, when the Earth and all its remaining inhabitants are devoured by the sun.