Labour has said there should be robust licencing of grouse shooting amid claims that illegal wildlife killing on sporting estates amounted to “serious organised crime”.
The call was made by Shadow Environment Secretary Claudia Beamish at a Labour conference fringe meeting where she cast doubt on the survival of the pastime in the long-term.
The meeting was hosted by Revive, an organisation campaigning for the reform of the country sport and whose agenda includes stripping grouse moor landowners of public subsidies.
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Speaking at the meeting, Ms Beamish said it would be “valid” for a licencing system to take into account issues raised by Revive.
Ms Beamish said: “I think that in order for grouse moors to continue – if indeed they do – there needs to be very robust licencing and robust monitoring.”
Ms Beamish made her remarks after campaigners claimed grouse moors only supported 3,000 jobs on an average salary of £11,500 despite accounting for almost one fifth of Scottish land.
Ruth Tiingay of Raptor Persecution UK, drew attention to golden eagles killed on Scottish moors, arguing it was “serious organised crime”.
Max Wiszniewski of Revive said his organisation was “not going for a ban” on grouse shooting “however understandable that would be”.
Rather Revive’s focus was to reform it as much as possible, including an end to government subsidies, heather burning limits, a lead ammunition ban, a ban on snares and more action against wildlife crime.
He said: “The question may come about if the industry can’t survive after the necessary reforms, it possibly has to reflect on itself.”