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Full background information and analysis can be found in our Grouse shooting research briefing. The summary of the research briefing is reproduced below.

Grouse shooting takes place on moorlands managed for the birds. Management includes rotational burning of heather and the killing of predators. There is evidence to suggest that moorlands have been managed more intensively for grouse over recent years.

Grouse shooting can be beneficial to the environment and the rural economy. It helps to preserve heather moorland, which is an internationally important habitat. Grouse shooting industry research shows economic benefits including over 1,500 jobs in England. The Government believes that grouse shooting makes a “significant” economic contribution to the rural economy while delivering other important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation.

However, there are concerns that some forms of management may be seriously damaging to the environment in a number of ways. There are also concerns that the illegal killing of birds of prey, and in particular hen harriers, is being conducted on grouse moors.

Measures are already in place to manage these issues, such as legislation to make the killing of birds of prey illegal, an action plan to address illegal killing of hen harriers and the regulation of burning on moors.

However there are concerns about the enforcement and application of these measures. The European Commission has initiated infraction proceedings against the UK to determine whether EU environmental law is being met.

Some have called for driven grouse shooting to be banned. Others support a licensing system to enable licences for grouse shooting to be revoked where illegal activities are found. Representatives of the industry believe that the existing legislation is adequate and that it is working to address many of the issues raised.

Two public petitions have been launched on this matter, on both sides of the argument. The Petitions Committee took evidence from witnesses on 18 October 2016, and a debate is scheduled for 31 October 2016.

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