The Inglorious Twelfth Marks a Season of Shame
Tuesday is the beginning of the annual red grouse shooting season in Scotland: the deceptively named “Glorious Twelfth”. Around half a million of these shy birds will be shot this year, helping to line the pockets of certain wealthy landowners but causing nothing but suffering to both the grouse and the many other animals who are killed because of this archaic, bloodthirsty industry.
Many estate managers kill birds of prey in order to “protect” grouse so that shooters can then kill them. Hawks, falcons, owls and other legally protected raptors are trapped, poisoned or shot, and their nests are also destroyed. Similarly, gamekeepers “control” (i.e., kill) foxes, crows, weasels, stoats and other animals so that hunters will have more grouse to shoot.
Unnaturally boosting the grouse population – for the perverse purpose of obliterating it later in the year – is also highly detrimental to the local environment. Upland moors store and absorb carbon dioxide – the British equivalent of a rainforest. But since grouse eat young heather shoots, moor “managers” burn heather in order to encourage fresh shoots, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There’s also evidence that the use of lead ammunition – which is toxic to wildlife – harms the environment and humans.
Estate owners generally receive £150 for every pair of birds shot down. This is basically blood money, supplied by people who kid themselves that this killing is “sport”. The 12th of August will be a glorious day only when grouse hunters put away their guns, traps and poisons for good.