This year’s grouse season officially closed on December 10th and estates across the country are reporting a more favourable season than had been initially predicted and, as a result, rural businesses welcomed a better than expected economic boost.

Many domestic as well as international parties travelled to Scotland to enjoy the iconic sport and make a significant contribution to the rural economy.

The four-month long season is immensely important for Scotland’s rural businesses and economy, as well as the positive role moorland management plays in enriching nature and biodiversity. Estates across Tayside, Speyside and parts of the Southern Uplands have reported a particularly good season.

Ross Ewing, Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Rural communities rely on the shooting sector, not just estates and their employees but the rural business that benefit from the downstream spend be it local pubs, shops and restaurants that are supported by this sporting tourism during what would be the off-season. It’s a way of life for so many and, without the shooting season, rural communities would suffer significantly with very few businesses in operation and a loss of community spirit.”

Over £200 million is generated from sporting shooting in Scotland, supporting 8,800 full-time equivalent jobs. Driven grouse shooting supports more jobs per hectare than any other moorland land use.

60 – 80% of direct spending on driven grouse shooting goes to the local area, providing the highest levels of regional spending compared to other moorland land uses and there is no other land use that would generate the same economic and environmental benefits.

Mr Ewing continues: “This year’s season comes to an end as the general principles of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill (Stage 1) were debated in the Scottish Parliament. Rural businesses have voiced ‘grave concerns’ regarding the operation of the proposed licensing scheme for grouse shooting risking jobs and livelihoods and having a severely detrimental impact on rural communities.”

The many biodiversity gains from moorland management must also be acknowledged, with species thriving in Scottish uplands as a result including rare birds such as black grouse, oystercatcher, curlew, lapwing and golden plover.

Birds of prey flourish too thanks to a plentiful supply of prey, including the golden eagle, hen harrier, buzzard, merlin and peregrine.

Grouse are entirely wild birds and shooting programmes take place on estates during the season only when there is a sustainable surplus. The number harvested on any moor will allow for a sustainable population to breed again the following year.