Grouse fake news

Antis have been trying it on in the run up to the Glorious Twelfth 2021. They claim that nearly half the Cairngorms is made up of grouseshooting estates (they aren’t), that Yorkshire Water has cancelled grouseshooting leases (they haven’t) and the National Trust is planning a grouseshooting review (it probably isn’t). Ben O’Rourke looks at the real story.

The Yorkshire Post has a banner at the top of its website that says: ‘News you can trust since 1754’. Unfortunately, the text below in a story about Yorkshire Water dumping grouseshooting estates can be taken with a pinch of salt.

It’s the latest report from the anti-shooting newspaper, which last year had a colourful wraparound advert for the Glorious Twelfth, sourced from the mouth of Luke Steele.

Steele’s latest incarnation is Wild Moors. This is an attempt to sound legitimate and perhaps distance himself from his criminal past.

He was formerly known as Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors and he was part of the Moorland Monitors, who have now distanced themselves from him.

“It’s certainly not best practice on the part of the journalist to run an article by Luke Steele without having a counter-argument to it,” says Gareth Dockerty from BASC. “Yorkshire Post said they spoke to Yorkshire Water but it didn’t want to comment.”

A comment from Yorkshire Water, which reassured BASC it has not changed its policy, would only draw unnecessary attention to an issue that only exists in the mind of Steele and his followers.

Yorkshire Post decided not to bother getting a response from the shooting community to back up its article or at least try and make it more balanced.


Luke Steele (left) in a previous incarnation

In a similar self-promotion stunt, Steele claims the National Trust is reviewing grouseshooting on its moors in the Peak District. Again, there’s not been a public statement from the organisation, suggesting it might all be in Steele’s head. Still – that story made the Derbyshire Times.

As for the Cairngorms story, the Cairngorms National Park Authority were forced to release a statement saying it was a lie. It released a statement to say: ‘The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) are aware of a recent report from Rewilding Britain, which claims – incorrectly – that 44% of the Cairngorms National Park comprises driven grouse moors. The figure quoted is for heather moorland as a whole, not the area used for driven grouse shooting. This 44% of the Cairngorms is used for a variety of land uses including upland farming, deer stalking, driven grouse, walked up grouse, conservation management, as well as regenerating woodland and montane scrub.’

This is not the first time Rewilding Britain has employed this kind of guerilla endorsement. In 2015, CNPA issued a statement to say that ‘Rewilding Britain has not been launched with the support of the Cairngorms National Park Authority’.

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