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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 August 2007, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Moors set for 'Glorious Twelfth'
Game shooting
The "Glorious Twelfth" will begin a day later this year
Enthusiasts are gearing up for the start of the UK's grouse shooting season.

The season traditionally begins on 12 August - the "Glorious Twelfth".

But with the date this year falling on a Sunday, when shoots do not take place, events will get under way a day later.

It is estimated that grouse shooting brings in some 1.6bn to the UK rural economy each year.

But it has its critics - the League Against Cruel Sports has described the Glorious Twelfth as a "slaughter of wildlife in the name of sport".

Unique species

There are 459 grouse moors across the UK, covering some 1.5m hectares.

The majority are in Scotland, northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The grouse shooting season runs until 10 December in Britain, and 30 November in Northern Ireland.

It is estimated that about 70,000 jobs are supported on estates and in surrounding businesses such as hotels and restaurants, which brings in some 1.6bn to the UK rural economy each year.

On the moors, beaters employed by the estates drive the grouse towards the shooters - who are screened by a turf or stone wall.

The birds are also sometimes flushed out by dogs.

The red grouse found on the moors is a unique species to the British Isles.

Grouse
Infestation and population decline hit programmes in recent years

They grow up in their natural environment and are not reared.

The shot grouse are sold on as food through a game dealer or butcher.

According to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, grouse is high in protein, low in fat and free from artificial additives.

But in order to protect numbers and other moorland birds, predators such as foxes and crows are controlled by gamekeepers.

Groups like the League Against Cruel Sports are critical of such "habitat management".

In recent years, the season has been hit by a decline in the grouse population and the spread of tick infestations.

Some estates cut down their operations or cancelled their programmes altogether.

But the Moorland Association and the Game Conservancy Trust said a warm and dry spring and rigorous pest control methods should see an increase in grouse numbers in many areas this year.


SEE ALSO
Game shooting laws to be relaxed
12 Jul 07 |  Politics
Mild winters hitting grouse stock
12 Aug 06 |  Scotland

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