Nature emergency declaration treats Highland moorland 'with contempt', says leading shooting group
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The Scottish Green Party’s declaration of a ‘nature emergency’ is treating Scotland’s moorland ‘with contempt’, according to the UK’s largest shooting organisation.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has said that the Scottish Green Party’s call for ‘an end to driven grouse moor management practices’ will do significant harm to Scotland’s iconic moorland wildlife.
The comments come as the declaration is being debated in the Scottish Parliament.
A spokesman for the BASC said: "Recent research commissioned by the Scottish Government has shown that practice of muirburn, the controlled burning of heather, has significant benefits for an abundance of moorland wildlife - including curlew, golden plover, merlin, lesser redpoll and whinchat.
"The research also noted that mountain hare, red deer and lapwing were not considered in the study “because there is already a substantial body of evidence indicating that these species benefit from and are positively associated with moorland managed for grouse shooting”.
BASC Scotland director, Dr Colin Shedden, said: “The Scottish Green Party is knowingly threatening an abundance of iconic moorland species which have been proven to benefit substantially from practices such as muirburn which are strongly associated with driven grouse shooting.
“To actively threaten moorland wildlife under the guise of a nature emergency declaration is testament to the fact that the Scottish Green Party will do almost anything to wage their class war on grouse shooting – irrespective of the environmental, social and economic cost.
“The party’s disconnectedness with rural Scotland has never been more apparent, and this is evidenced by the way in which they continually try to inflict harmful policies which treat moorland wildlife and communities with contempt in a bid to satisfy their own divisive agenda.”
In defence of the Green Party call, Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said: “Land managers employ a military-like campaign of predator control which systematically wipes out any species which could potentially threaten grouse to ensure maximum supplies of the game bird to be shot for entertainment. As if this is not bad enough, around 40 per cent of the animals killed are non target species such as hedgehogs, badgers and even domestic pets. It comes as absolutely no surprise the public is overwhelmingly opposed to this war on wildlife.”
"A recent League report, Calculating Cruelty, estimated that up to a quarter of a million animals are killed each year to sustain the grouse shooting industry. A sport which seven in ten people in Scotland are opposed to."