Grouse moors do not only provide hugely successful habitats for endangered birds but directly employ thousands of gamekeepers and keep rural Pennine towns economically viable. Yet they are the focus of the hyperventilated tweets of angry activists. Politicians have to judge when these campaigners are expressing genuine environmental concerns as opposed to contrived fury against rich owners. It is these owners and their staff who, instead of spending their days tweeting to each other, commit to the real work of creating magnificent heather habitats which would otherwise be low grade sheep grazing or conifer forests.
Heather burning: the RSPB has been lobbying for restrictions on heather burning which help promote the growth of new plants. Yet a paper published by the Royal Society in May 2016 said that RSPB campaigners were misinterpreting the science and risked “undermining the ability of their own managers to use fire as an ecological tool.”
Lead ammunition: one of the last acts of the last Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, was to turn down activist demands for a ban on lead ammunition. There was, the Secretary of State felt, no case in terms of bird conservation or human health.
Cruelty to birds: the shooting of game birds is a very public activity. By contrast the raising and killing of the 800 million chickens Britons eat each year is done behind closed doors. The average chicken lives for only six weeks before slaughter. So the game industry is convinced that the grouse on its plates lives far longer and better lives than the chicken eaten by activists. Grouse live their entire lives in the wild.