Rural businesses hail start of grouse shooting season

TODAY’S opening of the grouse shooting season has been described as a “lifeline” for rural businesses amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Shooting supports the equivalent of 11,000 full-time jobs in Scotland, including 2,640 in the grouse sector.

Hunting, shooting and fishing contribute £350 million each year to Scotland’s economy.

Dee Ward, owner of Rottal Estate at Glen Clova in Angus, said: “All aspects of our society have had to adapt to the challenges posed by covid-19 and the country sports sector is no different.

“We have a duty to staff and local businesses to restart safely and be in a position to sustain the significant economic benefits that grouse moor management provides.

“We have conducted our risk assessments and we have fully briefed members of the party, the gamekeepers and other staff as everyone’s safety is paramount.

“In these unusual circumstances it is just good to get out and enjoy this beautiful Scottish scenery with friends and family and also help get the Scottish rural economy safely back on track.”

Lesley McArthur, manager of Glenclova Hotel & Lodges, said: “This year, every hospitality business has been hugely affected by the pandemic and the enforced closures.

“In rural areas we have been hit particularly hard – I know some restaurants in cities have been able to offer a takeaway and delivery service for their customers, but we couldn’t do that until parts of our accommodation were allowed to open.

“We rely heavily on shooting visitors to keep our business afloat during the autumn and winter.

“Grouse is very important for us, and later in the year stalking and pheasant shooting. All the businesses, staff and communities in the glens are reliant on country sports.”

Tim Baynes, moorland director at trade body Scottish Land & Estates, added: “The rural economy has been buffeted by the pandemic and the grouse season will provide a lifeline for many businesses, especially in hospitality, to maintain activity until the end of the year.

“Even though visitor numbers might not be as high as normal due to international travel restrictions, investment by estate owners will continue and that is good news for jobs, communities, wildlife and the environment.”

Read more stories about how Scotland’s businesses are bouncing back from the coronavirus lockdown on Scottish Field’s news pages.