4 out of 5 stars

The news about the Glorious 12th has always been very much on the periphery of my knowledge. I have vague recollections of hearing it on the news over the years and knew it was to do with shooting grouse. What it refers to is the ‘sport’, and that is a very loose definition of the word, of driving the red grouse that have been artificially raised on out moors and uplands towards lines of guns so they can shoot them. Great, eh?

The grouse have very little choice as to where they can go and this ‘spot’ is not hunting where it is the hunter versus the hunted, where the odds of getting a kill are much lower. Rather this is where people drive the birds towards a line of guns where they can pick the low flying birds off, with little or no effort. To take part in this ‘sport’ you need deep pockets for the day and the shotguns. Or you just need to know someone who has a suitable moor in their vast estates…

The people that run these claim that the ‘sport’ is economically important to the area that it takes place, bringing employment and income to an area that has precious little else. It is true that it generates an income, however, when you look at the figures it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to our GDP. They would make more money from wildlife tourism. The other thing that they do is to eradicate all threats to the red grouse chicks. This means illegally killing all predators from eagles, wildcats and most importantly, hen harriers.

Avery has come from a conservation background and for years has sought to find a way to allow these magnificent raptors to survive and ideally thrive on the moors and uplands. But the shooting lobby and organisations do not really do compromise and the scant concessions that they are prepared to make are almost nothing compared to the concessions they expect others to make.

Some of the facts that Avery revels in here are really quite shocking. This is about powerful people, who often haunt the corridors of power on both sides of the houses of parliament and who are used to getting their own way regardless if it is illegal or not. Most distressing is the lack of prosecutions of people who deliberately seek to kill hen harriers and eagles and other wildlife. I feel that it should be the perpetrators and the landowners that should face fines and or jail.

As grim a read as it is, it is worth reading. Very much ‘Inglorious’ and more of a national tragedy. Avery is well informed and has targeted his fury at the practices of the shooting lobby into this book and other campaigns to get a ban of this ‘sport’.

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