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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Heat triggers hunt for grouse
Grouse on moors
Hot weather may have sent the birds looking for water
Shooters are being warned they may struggle to find grouse because the heat wave has sent the birds searching for water.

The "Glorious Twelfth" on Tuesday marked the start of the traditional shooting season across many parts of North Yorkshire, northern England and Scotland.

The warm weather has ensured there were a large number of grouse on the hills and moorland across the country.

But one expert says that the continued dry spell may scupper some hunters' chances of finding their prey.

Adam Smith of Game Conservancy said that while some parts of the country may have their best season in years, others may suffer due to the heat.

He said: "I would have been more bullish a few weeks ago.

"Some areas, such as the north east of Scotland, are talking about having record shooting.

"But there are other areas where the lovely weather might have been too good, the hills are becoming very dry and they are beginning to run out of water.

Man with gun
Shooters may find their quarry elusive
"Even if it doesn't reduce the number of grouse, it will make them harder to find.

"It should be a good year - if the guys can find where the birds have gone."

Phillip Pugh, the northern regional director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, agreed that the recent weather may have been "too dry" for the birds - but predicted it could be the best season in a decade.

He said: "It may be a short-term problem, but over the long-term prospects are very good for the season."

And he added that visitors and shooters out on the moorland should remain "extremely cautious" about smoking materials and litter.

"One accidental fire could wipe out a lifetime's conservation work on heather habitat."

Grouse numbers on the up
03 Aug 03  |  North Yorkshire
Markings help moor recovery
02 Jun 03  |  North East Wales

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