‘PREJUDICED” politicians must recognise the value of grouse shooting, sporting estates say.

On the “glorious twelfth” – the start of the 16-week grouse season – bodies representing the sector say MSPs must recognise the economic and environmental contributions it makes.

The call comes in a joint statement from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and the Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS).

It highlights research about the species diversity on managed moorland, adding: “Some politicians have issued statements referring to ‘barren Victorian hunting grounds’ and ‘playgrounds for the privileged few’. In doing so, they expose their own prejudice against the men, women and young people of all backgrounds – especially in rural communities – for whom grouse moors are so important.

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“Country sports tourism, of which grouse shooting plays a significant role, is worth £155 million per annum to the Scottish economy, with shooting sports supporting the equivalent of 8800 full-time jobs in Scotland.”

It goes on: “Those who claim the contribution that grouse moors make can be easily replaced put their activist pursuit above the needs of the economic and environmental realities of Scotland.

“Despite the often feverish debate around grouse shooting, there is a need for a cool examination of the facts. Rural communities face a multitude of challenges and the impact of turning the screw on grouse moors should not be underestimated.

“As part of a mosaic of sustainable land uses supporting fragile rural economies, we believe there is a bright future for grouse moor management in Scotland and are committed to working with others to deliver these benefits for rural communities, the natural environment and Scotland as a whole.”

Analysts suggest this season could mark the beginning of a recovery after poor results from last year.