In response to MP Kevin Hollinrake’s letter (MP defends grouse shoots, 23 June), there are a few points that are important. Firstly, the “management” by grouse estates does not result in healthy moorlands. The Dales should be a mosaic of woods, heather moors and wet blanket bogs. Healthy peat should be full of Sphagnum moss but, as the JNCC says, in the blanket bogs in North Yorkshire, “the usual bog-building Sphagnum mosses are scarce” and the majority of the land is degraded. Secondly, Great Britain is the only country that has driven grouse shooting which only started around 1850.  Hunters in other places such as Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia stalk grouse in their native mixed woodlands. If we were to restore this mosaic in the Dales and leave the bogs to recover, we could have grouse stalking without the associated habitat destruction, increased flooding and disease burden that are a result of this unnatural way of managing game birds. Thirdly, according to the Countryside Alliance, grouse shooting supports around 1500 jobs in England including those in the supporting services. National Parks England supports over 48,000 just for the tourism sector. Creating mixed habitats would still allow stalking of grouse, but could also create conservation jobs and bring in more tourists to areas often closed by the estates. There are over 4 million tourists a year coming to the Dales with only 1% of that number coming for grouse shooting, making those estates very unproductive for their size. Don’t defend the indefensible. We can support the niche hunting fraternity but also better serve the wildlife and people who live in and visit the Dales through more sensible habitat management.
Jean McKendree