Alert as saboteurs are urged to disrupt Glorious Twelfth

Henry Bodkin
Estates taking part in the Glorious Twelfth are anticipating an increase in incursions onto Grouse Moors and other illegal actions. - NO SYNDICATION. COPYRIGHT REMAINS WITH PPA

The start of the grouse shooting season will take place amid heightened security today as organisers fear disruption from saboteurs ‘fuelled’ by campaigners such as Chris Packham and the RSPB.

Estates taking part in the Glorious Twelfth are anticipating an increase in incursions onto Grouse Moors and other illegal actions.

The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said local shoots were monitoring the activity of known saboteurs intent on derailing what is considered a highlight of the field sports calendar.

This year’s opening day follows interventions by the BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham, who earlier this month described grouse shooting as “moorland vandalism” and called for the sport to be banned.

The RSPB, of which Packham is vice president, is leading a campaign to force grouse moor owners to seek licenses for shooting, saying gamekeepers are killing endangered hen harriers, which feed on grouse chicks.

Final preparations are taking place on grouse moors across the country.  Credit: Graeme Hart

Duncan Thomas, Northern England Director for the BASC, said: “Shoots have taken contingency measures and have put in extra security measures to combat disruptive activities.

“The conduct of Chris Packham is no doubt fuelling animosity and future conflict.”

“The glorious 12 is not about just grouse.

“It’s a collaboration of a huge effort throughout the year that benefits a huge range of wildlife.”

In 2015 anti-blood sports protesters were arrested at the Duke of Westminster’s Abbeystead estate, and one other property, in Lancashire ahead of the beginning of the grouse shooting season.

A man stands on top of the Cow & Calf rocks at the top of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire. Credit: Andrew McCaren/LNP

If protesters manage to get in front of the guns during a shoot, the activity can be suspended for several hours and sometimes abandoned altogether in the interests of safety.

A demonstration is planned on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire on Saturday against Bradford Council’s licensing of grouse shooting on the land.

It is the last municipal moorland in the country where the sport is permitted.

A march to Downing Street in London, organised by the League Against Cruel Sports, is also planned to take place.

The League argues that grouse shooting leads to the “persecution” of other species which share the game birds’ moorland habitat.

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