UK Politics

MPs to debate grouse shooting ban

Hen harrier on grouse moor Image copyright AP
Image caption The official grouse hunting season runs from August to December

MPs are to hear calls for grouse shooting to be banned, after more than 100,000 people signed a petition denouncing the sport.

Campaigners argue it involves illegal killing of birds of prey, increases flood risks and means the deaths of "large numbers" of other predators.

But supporters of grouse shooting say it is an "integral" part of moorland management and supports jobs.

MPs will debate two petitions - for and against the sport - on Monday.

Conservationists argue that some gamekeepers who manage grouse moors kill hen harriers to preserve their stocks.

But countryside groups and the government say grouse shooting is a legitimate activity that brings £70m to the rural economy.

'Unnecessary'

They also argue that gamekeeper management helps other moorland bird species, such as lapwings, curlews and golden plovers, by keeping fox numbers down

An online petition against grouse shooting was organised by the League Against Cruel Sports, wildlife presenter Chris Packham and environmental campaigner Mark Avery. It attracted 123,077 signatures, making it eligible for an MPs' debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall.

Image copyright Getty Images

It stated: "Driven grouse shooting uses animals for live target practice, with thousands killed every day. Native predators are killed because they eat red grouse.

"Mountain hares are killed because they carry ticks that can spread diseases to grouse. Heather is burned to increase red grouse numbers for shooting. Grouse shooting is economically, ecologically and socially unnecessary. This is 'canned hunting'."

The Commons Business Committee, which oversees backbench MPs' debates, also decided to include the second petition, which gathered 24,135 signatures, in the Westminster Hall discussion. It was titled "Protect grouse moors and grouse shooting".

It stated: "Grouse moors and grouse shooting are an integral part of moorland management both for the grouse and other native wildlife such as lapwing and curlew. It also helps support of local businesses and jobs in the local areas. This cannot be banned."

The grouse shooting season runs from 12 August to 10 December.

Westminster Hall will debate the petitions from 16:30 GMT.

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