As the Glorious 12th nears, a good grouse shooting season has been predicted by landowners.
The Moorland Association’s representative for the North York Moors, George Winn-Darley, who manages 6,500 acres of North Yorkshire heather moorland says while many birds found themselves in serious difficulties, some of the most threatened species were doing well on grouse moors.
Moorland Association members spend £52.5m a year managing grouse moors, resulting in around 700 full-time jobs and a further 800-plus directly linked to the £67m grouse industry.
He said: “Luckily, conditions for wild red grouse have been much better this year in most areas, after weather blighted the two previous breeding seasons.
“We are hopefully looking at a good season for most, helping to recoup costs. Shooting creates 42,500 days of work a year. With the prospects of a better season ahead, associated spin-offs will be in excess of £15 million - essential earnings in these challenging economic times. So many people benefit, from the food industry to hoteliers, clothing manufacturers to dry stone wallers, the list is endless.”
Shooting days can be held from August 12 until December 10 excluding Sundays, but only the surplus population is shot ensuring a healthy wild breeding stock is left for the following year.
He added: “Shooting usually stops well before the official end of the season and most moors only shoot between six and 30 days, however, every day is a bonus for the local economy.
“Despite the success of the breeding season, only a handful of those letting days on a commercial basis will break even due to the great costs involved in managing the moor.”
Meanwhile, extreme weather across North Yorkshire has left moorland at increased risk of wildfires.
The Moorland Association said a period of icy winds in March dessicated heather on the moors, leaving large patches of tinder-dry dead material.
This has increased the risk of fires, as well as reducing feeding and breeding habitat for wildlife.
The recent hot weather also increased the risk of fires among the dead heather as well as attracting more visitors to the region.