Emptying our Uplands

Filed in Articles, Wildlife on Jul.27, 2020

Driven Grouse Shooting is a blight on our nation. It is destroying our national heritage leaving our moorlands and uplands devoid of so many beautiful species of animals and birds. Land owners, gamekeepers and their proxies are cleansing our uplands and moorlands of so much precious wildlife.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography We often demonise poachers who target creatures in distant lands, yet when the animals that exist right on our doorstep are being persecuted, we descend into silence. The wildlife in the UK is unique and beautiful it needs just as much help to survive.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A satellite-tagged White-tailed Eagle has been killed by poison on a grouse moor in Cairngorms National parkPolice Scotland has confirmed that this rare eagle, found dead earlier this year was poisoned. The bird of prey was recovered from Donside, Aberdeenshire, in April. A post mortem has now established it died as a result of pesticide poisoning. It had been satellite tagged, and the death is being treated as suspicious.

White-tailed Sea Eagles were re-introduced into Scotland in the 1970s after becoming extinct in the UK in the early 1900s. There are now over 150 breeding pairs in Scotland. An investigation is ongoing and Police Scotland is appealing for information to help identify those responsible.

To read more about this and further information click on the following link.  If you’d like the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and her Environment Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham to know how angry this news makes you feel, send your emails to: firstminister@gov.scot and CabSecECCLR@gov.scot

More shocking news of these issues closer to home for me, as the RSPB has updated its list of confirmed and suspected cases of illegal raptor persecution in and around the Peak District National Park A place devoid and barren of birds of prey and other species because of the ingrained cruelty that lurks in every part of the driven grouse shooting industry.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

This level of crime in this national park deserves a condemnation of the whole grouse shooting industry and this is something the National Park Authority consistently fails to do.

Below is the updated list from the RSPB

In the north of the National Park, the remains of a short-eared owl, an amber-listed species, were found on a grouse moor near Glossop on 7 May. A post-mortem recently concluded that shooting had been the cause of death. No leads were forthcoming from police enquiries.

Near Agden Reservoir, an area dominated by driven grouse moors, four raven chicks were found dead in a nest also on 11 May. The parent birds had been seen bringing food to the young, then vanished without explanation.

The chicks were almost at the point of fledging, and the RSPB say the adults were exceptionally unlikely abandon the nest at that stage. The incident is being investigated by South Yorkshire Police.

Test results are awaited in connection with an adult peregrine found dead in the Upper Derwent Valley.

In the south, just outside the National Park an eyewitness reported seeing two buzzards being shot near Ashbourne on 1 April 2020. A member of the public was watching the two birds circling a wood, on land managed for pheasant shooting, when he heard a shot and saw the birds fall. There’s no comment about a police investigation.

(Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group) 

On 11 May, a buzzard was found mortally wounded on land managed for gamebird shooting near Diggle. It was found alive but with terrible injuries and sadly had to be euthanized. An x-ray revealed six pieces of shot lodged in the bird’s body.

In the south of the Park, a buzzard and two peregrines are being tested for poison after being found dead in Staffordshire.

In mid-June, Derbyshire Police issued an appeal for information after three peregrine nests were robbed of their eggs, all within the National Park. The RSPB alerted the police about one of the

A dead kestrel and a buzzard have also gone for poison testing: they were found near Glapwell, where several buzzards were found poisoned in 2016.

You can read more about this shameful roll of killing and find out more information on the following link.

With all this illegal killing in our uplands it’s a real worry with the shooting season starting on August 12th. Red Grouse live in some of the harshest environments in the UK.

This bird is a true specialist of this environment, cruelly killed each year, forced from the ground by beaters. Talking off in a blind panic and into the guns of paid shooters from a day they name the “Glorious Twelfth

They call it “Tradition” something passed down from generation to generation from a world most of us will never be invited too or get chance to stand alongside these people to be able to understand them.

It costs alot of money to shoot grouse, around £7,000 per person per day. The owners of grouse moors, who are often very rich themselves, justify the costs by making sure that there are lots of red grouse to shoot.

Many grouse moors are often like the many monoculture landscapes I’ve seen in Sumatra, Indonesia with the vile and lifeless palm oil plantations they have there.

Producing as many grouse as possible also means burning and draining the land, which creates those monoculture’s. By ridding these moors of the heather, foliage or other vegetation it releases the carbon in the soil, pollutes rivers and helps to flood the towns downstream. Many people that live downstream of these moors can vouch for this, one such place is Hebden Bridge.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A lot of wildlife on these moorland habitats are shot, trapped and poisoned by the gamekeepers employed by those rich landowners to maximise grouse numbers. Which then allows them to charge those rates to shoot grouse and make the landowners even richer. Grouse moors are places where most if not all the birds of prey vanish and nobody or know one is prosecuted.

Each time there is an outpouring of anger towards the shooting industry, those opposed to it are taught a real lesson in who really owns that countryside in the form of birds killed, poisoned, trapped. Left out on fences to slowly die in pole traps, birds of prey going missing and much more.

Cruelty has no class, its voiceless, its impacts are far reaching and entangled into our daily life. How we treat those creatures entrusted into our care through our evolutionary past is very important in today’s fake, consumer “I want it now” world. Without nature there is nothing, and the systemic, brutal sterilising of our national heritage can’t carry on.

The destructive nature of driven grouse shooting on the lead up to, during and after is killing so many creatures and has to be more accountable and regulated now.

A tough, robust licencing system needs to be put into place to make those that shoot any wildlife more accountable. The countryside is for all and not just an exclusive playground for the rich.

Our wildlife is incredibly beautiful and we all need to help to protect it. There are a number of people and organisations doing some great work in highlighting the level of cruelty in our countryside. We need those in power, elected by the people from all classes to do more to protect our national heritage.


6 comments
  1. Madeleine J C Massey said:


    Thank you for your well written knowledgeable blog and beautiful photos.
    I hope it goes far in preserving, saving the moors and their wildlife.

  2. craig said:


    Thank you for caring and commenting Madeleine.

  3. Ruth Finney said:


    It is very true that we spend a lot of time concerned with wildlife persecution of other nations whilst we ignore the many issues in our own country.
    Your commentry was inciteful & photos beautiful.

  4. craig said:

  5. Tania Pearce said:


    Thank you for your beautiful poignant blog. Thank you for daring and caring enough to highlight the plight of out British wildlife. Thank you for not being afraid, and standing up to the blindfolded traditionalist bullies, who can’t see the damage they are inflicting on the future. Thank you.

  6. craig said:


    Thank you Tania for your lovely words. We can all do something to protect our wildlife, but sadly most don’t. This has to change for our wildlife to have any chance of survive, thank you again.

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