Grouse shooting vital part of fragile rural economy

Last week saw the start of this year’s grouse shooting which has been estimated to bring £30m to the rural economy.

A sports lets agency has reported “particularly strong” demand for grouse shooting in Scotland, as the 2011 season begins.

CKD Galbraith said teams of grouse shooters will spend an average of £10,000 to £15,000 for a day’s driven shooting.

Poor weather conditions are reported to have reduced grouse numbers. Worst-affected have been Inverness-shire but healthy grouse numbers have been recorded in the Lammermuirs.

Colin Shedden, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s Scotland director, said: “We had a hard winter this year but we had a hard winter the previous year and there were reports of grouse deserting grouse moors in large numbers, going down to the lower ground, but it didn’t adversely affect in many areas the breeding success of grouse the following spring so they do seem capable of dealing with these long hard weather periods that we’ve had.”

Robert Rattray, a partner at CKD Galbraith, said: “Grouse shooting is a vital part of our fragile rural economy, both in terms of managing our vulnerable heather moorland and in providing a world-class venue for sportsmen. It also provides a valuable economic benefit, with the grouse industry as a whole in Scotland valued at £30m and supporting some 950 full-time jobs.”

One gamekeeper added: “Grouse shooting contributes to the local economy in more ways than we can imagine. There’s the hotels - not only does it create some revenue for the boss who puts a lot of money into the moor in wages, equipment, facilities; but when the guns come to stay they stay in the local hotels, they spend money in the local shops, the local pubs do well. It’s a big knock-on effect.

“Without the grouse shooting, a lot of things would suffer. The grouse are the main reason the landowners put the time and the money into these moors. And through doing that, everything benefits.”

A study by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University in 2010 indicated that a rise in shooting fees had contributed to the increasing profitability of sporting estates.

It found that 42% of them were turning a profit, compared with just 2% 16 years before.