Scottish estates are making final preparations for the Glorious 12th, the start of the grouse season.
This year’s season is more important than ever to rural businesses, after the economic hit from the Covid restrictions on tourism and hospitality last year.
At Roxburghe Estates in the Scottish Borders, head keeper Drew Ainslie and assistant factor Ed Brown were out on Byrecleugh Moor today making their final assessment of the number of adult birds.
Ed Brown, assistant factor at Roxburghe Estates said: “After the past 18 months of disruption, the revenue from the grouse season will be a lifeline for small businesses, hotels and pubs in the area. The expenditure during the season provides a much-needed boost outwith the peak tourist season in the summer.
“Like many estates our main shooting programme will start in September. It’s not unusual to have a slow start to the season, and the cold weather in April and May will have affected early nesting birds.”
In addition to the economic boost, the moorland conservation work undertaken on grouse moors promotes biodiversity.
Drew Ainslie said: “Well-managed moorlands provide habitat for at least 57 bird species in Scotland, as well as mountain hares, reptiles and amphibians. Curlew, lapwing, meadow pipit, oystercatcher and golden plover as well as a range of birds of prey, including golden eagles and hen harriers, all thrive on grouse moors. We are proud of our year-round conservation work.”
Game shooting supports 11,000 full time jobs in Scotland, of which 2,640 are in the grouse sector.
The value of the game and country sports industry to the Scottish economy is £350m annually. A survey of 45 grouse estates in 2017 showed that £23m of trade to local businesses was generated by Scottish estates before a grouse was even shot.