Primary school children will be taken on police-funded day trips to grouse shooting moors, run by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, it was announced earlier this month.
Children as young as six will spend ‘conservation days’ on the North Yorkshire Moors, which the BASC’s regional officer Gareth Dockerty says “will allow them to find out all about life on the moors through the eyes of a local gamekeeper and through tailored activities.”
The project is to be funded by North Yorkshire Police, who have provided the BASC with a grant of £3000 to run the scheme. The grant was approved by North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dave Jones and Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan.
The BASC state that the trips will see children “helping with conservation tasks and learning about habitat and wildlife unique to the region” – despite the wealth of evidence that grouse moor ‘conservation’ actually destroys habitat and kills wildlife.
In order to protect the grouse that will be shot, gamekeepers ruthlessly kill any other species which predate on grouse eggs and chicks such as crows, magpies, foxes, mountain hares and stoats. These animals are often killed using incredibly cruel snare traps, in which they suffer a prolonged and agonising death. Birds of prey such as buzzards, eagles, peregrines and kites are also persecuted by those involved in the grouse shooting industry. Hen harriers in particular have been illegally persecuted to the point that they are facing extinction in England.
Outrageously Chief Constable Jones, who approved the BASC’s grant, serves as national police lead for rural and wildlife crime. He is therefore responsible for investigating and prosecuting the illegal killing of raptors – birds routinely persecuted by the very industry funded by the grant.
In addition to causing enormous harm to wild animals, grouse shooting causes immense damage to natural habitats. Protected peat bogs are damaged by the intensive heather burning which gamekeepers carry out in order to provide grouse with young heather on which to feed.
In an analysis carried out in 2015 by the independent government advisory body the Committee on Climate Change, it was found that “Wetland habitats, including the majority of upland areas with carbon-rich peat soils, are in poor condition. The damaging practice of burning peat to increase grouse yields continues, including on internationally protected sites.”
When moorland heather is burnt, it causes the moors to shed water more quickly. Water then runs off the hills and into the valleys which, during periods of heavy rainfall, can cause catastrophic flooding, as seen in late 2015 when the Upper Calder Valley was hit by floods.
George Monbiot recalled how prior to the floods, campaigners in Hebden Bridge had “been begging the government to stop the drainage and burning of the grouse moors upstream […] activists told me that thanks to the damage inflicted on the bogs and deep vegetation of the moors, which reduces their capacity to hold water, it was only a matter of time before Hebden Bridge was wrecked again by flash floods.” Shortly afterwards, severe floods did indeed hit the valley and businesses and homes in Hebden Bridge were left devastated.
Indoctrinating impressionable young children into believing bloodsports are a healthy and natural pursuit is disgraceful and falsely teaching them that grouse estate ‘conservation’ benefits wild animals and the environment, a shocking and grotesque distortion of the truth. The fact that the trips will be funded by North Yorkshire Police, and have been approved by the individual in charge of wildlife crime, only adds to the sordidness of the scheme.
We need to speak out about this and make our objections known. Parents in North Yorkshire who are disgusted by the scheme are particularly encouraged to publicly voice their opposition.