With several seasons kicking off from August and the Glorious Twelfth having been and gone, it’s a good time to round up the Hunting News from the last 12 months. Whether you are an avid deer stalker or are more into wildfowling, it's always best to keep ahead of recent news that may be affecting the industry.
Hunting news has been dominated this year once again by foxhunting, which seems to emerge every now and again to cause a serious discussion amongst MP’s and wildlife conservationists. The debate has been ignited by a vote taken back in July to relax foxhunting regulations in England. But what may have been an easy win for a Conservative majority, was not as straightforward given the circumstances.
Since the General Election result was decided soon after 7th May 2015, the Conservative majority has had to deal with the SNP majority in Scotland, who has used their 56 seats to interrupt certain policies that they openly did not agree with. One of these of course was the vote to relax foxhunting, which meant that the government simply chose to abandon the vote, knowing they could not win with such a large opposition coming from the SNP and from inside its own party.
So rather than go ahead with a relaxed policy, which would have meant a return of old-style hunting with a full pack of dogs, the fox was kept off the hunt list for a little while longer. But it’s not the first time this topic has been bridged and it won’t be the last, despite the hunting ban coming into force back in 2004.
There has been well-documented issues surrounding Grouse Shooting this year, especially the declining numbers due to intense rearing rendering the population more susceptible to parasitic disease. There are combative measures in place, such as small boxes planted in moorlands containing medicated grit that the grouse can ingest to help with their digestion. However, this year it may not be enough to keep numbers of grouse as high as they have been in the past.
The physical result of this is that 40% of shooting days could be lost this season, especially with the added issue of poor weather conditions. The knock-on effect, will be potential job losses in the industry as the number of shooting opportunities dwindles in areas like the Peak district, Cumbrian moors, the Pennines and Yorkshire Dales. Communities who directly benefit from Grouse Shooting will also suffer as a result.
Thankfully, initiatives such as the Gift of Grouse, are highlighting the benefits that come from Grouse Shooting, such as tourism, employment, conservation and the creation of a gateway to the countryside. As much as there are opponents to any form of shooting, campaigns like these should at least keep the industry at the forefront as it goes through a difficult period.