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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Rain dampens grouse hopes
Shooting
The shooting season starts on 12 August
Grouse numbers on some of England's prime moorlands have been hit by recent rainstorms.

But the moorland owners are still expecting a "moderate" shooting season starting on Monday - the "Glorious 12th".

The number of birds rose sharply in 2001 across northern England after the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Grouse breeding started well in the spring of 2002, but cold wet weather and disease then hit numbers in some areas.

Grouse
Grouse numbers were high in 2001

Simon Bostock, chairman of the Moorland Association said: "High hopes following a cold dry spell before Christmas were dampened by a wet, mild late winter.

"But fortunes reversed following a fine spring which put birds in good order and encouraged early chick survival."

Good shooting is expected in some areas, including the North York Moors and northern Northumberland.

But Cumbria, parts of the southern Yorkshire Dales, southern Northumberland and Durham have been hit by weeks of bad weather.

Less certain

West Yorkshire and north Derbyshire are hoping for a reasonable year.

But some of the Peak District's western moors are less certain after being hit by the rain.

The moors of Lancashire are said to be recovering slowly and most moorland owners will conduct only light shooting.

Nesting sites

Last year, grouse numbers rose after the foot-and-mouth restrictions.

It is believed there was less disturbance of nesting sites in areas normally popular with visitors.

But a cold winter is thought to have helped the grouse by killing off parasitic worms.

See also:

11 Aug 02 | England
09 Aug 02 | England
24 Jul 01 | UK
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