The Glorious Twelfth: What is it and is it really glorious?

The day marks the start of the controversial grouse shooting season


The Glorious Twelfth may only feature on the calendar of a very select few but arguably has a huge impact on Britain’s wild birds.

The event, on 12 August every year, marks the first day of the grouse shooting season and has become a flashpoint for tensions between the game industry and conservationists.

Found in northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the iconic red grouse is shot in large numbers until the end of the season in December.

Popular among the elite and shooting enthusiasts, hunting holidays can cost thousands of pounds.

The £67 million industry creates hundreds of jobs, according to the Moorland Association, but there is continuing controversy about the shooting season’s impact on red grouse and other birds, including hen harriers, which have been illegally killed to protect the grouse.

The management of moorland to up grouse numbers, including burning heather and controlling predators including foxes, stoats and crows, has also been criticised.

England’s moorland owners have committed to a £52.5 million annual spend on conservation and seriously threatened species, helping them preserve 860,000 acres of heather.

The Moorland Association has defended grouse shooting, saying “careful game management” has helped at-risk species including the lapwing, curlew and golden plover.

Heather moorland in Derbyshire. Picture: The Moorland Association Heather moorland in Derbyshire. Picture: The Moorland Association Robert Benson, the chairman, said: “We have a vital part to play in stemming the decline of some of our most vulnerable birds.

“Without shooting income the consequences to wildlife - particularly the scarce ‘red listed’ breeds - would be severe.”

The country’s first hen harrier chicks for two years have fledged in north Lancashire, with some on land managed for grouse shooting.

But they and other protected birds have been found killed on land use for hunts, along with red kites, buzzards and other birds that prey on the red grouse.

The RSPB is among the charities calling for a “robust licensing system” to govern the management of grouse moors.

In an open letter to the Moorland Association last month, Dr Mike Clarke, chief executive of RSPB, wrote: “There is evidence that birds of prey continue to be persecuted, impacting on their populations, and many important sites for wildlife are being damaged or destroyed by intensive management activities.”

During the shooting season, hunters either walk across the moor and take aim at the startled grouse or shoot them out of the sky after they are “beaten” towards the guns.

Grouse are unique to the British Isles. Grouse are unique to the British Isles. Photo: Moorland Association / Neville Turner The dead birds often end up in high-end restaurants and on butchers’ shelves to be roasted.

Marks and Spencer is not stocking grouse this year because it cannot secure sufficient numbers of “responsibly sourced and third party accredited” red grouse, while the Lush cosmetics chain has been inviting its customers to sign a postcard to the Queen, calling for action to protect the hen harrier.

Animal Aid conducted a report that demanded state licensing for shoots and gamekeeping to ensure wildlife protection laws are adhered to.

“It is obscene and primitive – and it is being subsidised by the taxpayers through the Common Agricultural Policy,” said Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid.

“When it all boils down this is about extreme intervention in a very sensitive landscape to maximise the number of birds simply to kill them for pleasure.”

house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living