11 August 1997
Study to back shooting protected birds
A STUDY to be published this autumn by Government scientists with input from landowning interests and conservationists shows that hen harriers and peregrine falcons reduce the number of grouse available for shooting on grouse moors.
This would create the best argument for grouse-moor owners to be given licences to trap or shoot rare birds of prey which are protected under European Union law.
Ecologists involved in the study insist poor heather-burning, over-grazing of heather by sheep and deer and disease have a worse effect on grouse numbers than birds of prey. They blame over-grazing for allowing heather moorland to be invaded by grass.
The grouse-shooting season starts tomorrow, and bird numbers are at their highest for eight years.