Rural upland businesses and communities across the north have been counting the cost of a poor grouse shooting season and a financial loss that runs into millions of pounds.
Over the course of the four-month season, which finished on Monday, an estimated 70 per cent of shoot days were cancelled.
The Moorland Association says that recent survey data indicates the financial impact of these cancellations is approximately £11million, a substantial direct loss for rural businesses and those who live and work in remote upland communities.
It says hotels, pubs, restaurants, game dealers, contractors and other ancillary businesses have lost much-needed revenue due to the lack of grouse shooting customers.
The poor season was caused by low red grouse numbers. The Beast from East, followed by a prolonged drought, impacted the growth of heather, the red grouse’s principal food source, resulting in a shortage of birds.
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, whose members manage 190 moors, said: “2018 has been a disappointing year for most of the grouse shooting community in England where overall 70 per cent of shoot days were cancelled due to low red grouse numbers.
“The knock-on negative economic impact has been significant and rural businesses have really felt the hit.
“The good news is that, despite the poor season, grouse estates across the country continue to invest heavily in the conservation of the moorlands benefitting a wide range of flora and fauna, including vulnerable ground nesting birds such as the curlew, merlin, lapwing, ring ouzel and red grouse.”