The Scottish Greens are calling for this year’s grouse shooting season to be the last after branding it “a cruel Victorian hobby”.
Upland businesses are set to reopen as the season begins on Wednesday “the Glorious 12th” but the debate over the shooting and its impact has reignited – with the Greens wanting a full ban.
The party’s rural spokesman called out the Scottish Government for not responding to a two-year review of the sport by Professor Alan Werritty.
John Finnie MSP said: “Up to a fifth of Scotland is given up to this cruel hobby practised by a very small group of people.
“It is a hobby which tears up and burns our land, it kills all kinds of wildlife, yet the Werritty review couldn’t even recommend licensing.
“What’s worse, the Scottish Government has dragged its heels since. It hasn’t responded to the review, and it hasn’t prevented the mass killing of mountain hares despite parliament and public calling for the species to be protected.
“Birds of prey, too, continue to disappear, like Tom the golden eagle who vanished this week.
“There’s nothing glorious about the 12th of August or about the intensive and damaging killing, burning, and degradation of our landscape that is associated with driven grouse shooting.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to get off the fence, come into the 21st century and end this cruel practice.”
However, Tim Baynes, moorland director at Scottish Land & Estates, said that the land grouse shooting takes place on provides a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits for Scotland.
He added: “In the midst of a global pandemic, which has buffeted the rural economy, it is astonishing that the Scottish Green Party call for measures that would decimate highly skilled rural jobs.
“At a time of so much economic uncertainty, we would like to see parliamentarians demonstrate their support for the benefits that this land use undoubtedly provides.”
The grouse season in Scotland, which runs for 16 weeks from August 12 to December 10, is estimated to be worth £32m during a good season.
This is part of the £350m overall value of game and country sports to Scotland.
Shooting sports also support 11,000 full-time jobs in Scotland, of which 2640 are in the grouse sector.