THE START of the grouse-shooting season has begun but all is not well as shooters only managed to bag a small number of birds, pointing to yet another disastrous season for estates and shooters.
Saturday August 12th was the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, the most significant day in the field sports calendar.
Shooters gathered at Brikdale Estates in upper Teesdale, as they did on moors all over the UK for the official start of this year’s four-month season – but the story was the same everywhere; there weren’t enough birds to shoot and gundogs sat idly by, waiting for a kill to retrieve.
Gamekeepers all over the North East reported a dramatic drop in the number of birds shot, a knock-on effect of last year, which was the worst season recorded for 100 years. Many shooters blame global warming for upsetting the natural seasons and encouraging diseases to flourish, which decimate the grouse population.
Amanda Anderson, of The Moorland Association, said: ‘The key thing to remember is last year we had a bad year and you cannot expect a good year after a bad one.
‘The grouse are wild birds and we can't predict what they will do. There were very few grouse left on the moor after last season and they were small.
‘It is hard to expect lots of offspring if the birds have not been in tip-top health and had to get through a bad winter.’
But she added: ‘It's not all doom and gloom and there is some strong grouse up there and hopefully things will improve.
‘Everyone knew before the season started that Teesdale and the top end of Weardale would be poor. But it is a natural process looking after what you've got and the owners put a lot of investment in, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme and they are in it for the long term.’
Teesdale has been a popular shooting location for generations. John F Kennedy, Prince Charles and Edward VII have all shot at Wemmergill down the years.