Gamekeepers are reporting ‘excellent’ prospects ahead of the Glorious Twelfth tomorrow for both grouse and under-threat wading birds.
The start of the grouse shooting season is expected to bring a £32 million boost to rural communities, but keepers are also reporting that the moors are in good shape for breeding species such as curlew and lapwing.
Controlling predators and managing the heather for grouse has also boosted the number of wading birds using the moors, according to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).
Alex Hogg, chairman of the SGA, says: ‘The prospects for the grouse season look good. The mix of weather has been right for the birds, which have feathered up well, there’s been enough water and there has been a good insect hatch.
‘It should secure a good season for sporting visitors which, in turn, helps the small rural communities; the tourism businesses, shops and retailers that require the cash injection as we head into the less seasonal months.’
He adds: ‘The most pleasing things for us, though, is the fate of our fragile species. Through our 2014 SGA Year of the Wader project, we now have wader counts in from grouse moors in the Borders, Tayside, Speyside and Inverness-shire and the birds are faring well thanks to the work of the keepers who are putting the hard work in to help these threatened birds, which have no protection otherwise from the larger predators which dwarf them increasingly in number.
‘Viable grouse shooting means estates can afford to pay keepers to do this vital conservation work without any need for public money.
‘If you removed this model, the bill would have to come from the public purse and vast swathes of Scotland’s heather moorland, more endangered than the rainforest, would be increasingly under threat from afforestation.’