The government responded to this petition when it received 10,000 signatures. Unfortunately, the government’s response was so inaccurate and selective that it appears to represent a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.  There are four key inaccuracies in the government response:

(1)The response claims that recent experience in Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Dorset has shown that licensed culling “is safe, humane and effective in reducing the number of badgers needed to bring down disease levels in cattle”. This statement conflicts sharply with the available evidence. An Independent Expert Panel (IEP) established by Defra to evaluate the first year of culling concluded that the free shooting approach did not meet their standards for humaneness1. When a second year of culling yielded no evidence of improvement, the British Veterinary Association called for free shooting to be abandoned2. Ministers responded by simply stating that “we don’t agree”3. The government’s claim that licensed culling is “humane” is thus not shared by respected authorities on animal welfare.

Likewise, evidence indicates that the culls have not been “effective in reducing the number of badgers”. Defra has repeatedly stated an intention to reduce badger numbers by at least 70%, relative to their pre-cull levels, acknowledging that failing to do so would risk increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it4. The IEP concluded that the first culls fell far short of that aim1. Since then, Defra has reiterated its aim of reducing badger numbers by “at least 70%”, while quietly setting targets with only a slim possibility of achieving this aim5. Defra’s claim that the culls are “effective” is thus not consistent with available evidence.

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The advancement of man has seen us walk on the moon and fly by Jupiter to look for new life, yet we destroy the very life that supports the planet we currently inhabit. 

Wildlife has been on this planet for hundreds of millions of years and co-existed with its prey and its predators. The flora and fauna that exists has created a world that humans could evolve in; a little more than 20 thousand years ago, humans appeared in our current form. 

On a clock face of the history of our planet, we arrived at around two seconds before midnight, yet the devastation we have caused is immeasurable and, I can only hope, reversible. It is the Anthropocene age (the age of man) and we should not be proud. We have removed species at an ever increasing rate. We give lip service to tick box legislations, that allows the removal of wildlife habitats for human ventures, yet offers no alternative. It is sentencing wild animals to a slow and painful, but sure death.  

Our 17 species of UK bats have life expectancies of 15 - 40 years. They learn directly from their parents where it is safe, where to feed and where to hibernate; over generations the colony grows stronger through that accumulated knowledge. If you remove the habitat they will be destroyed and generations of survival knowledge will be removed along with it. This applies to all our species as we destroy habitats all over the UK with no second thought for its inhabitants - the majority do not just relocate. 

The Anthropocene age is with us and is devastating our wildlife. It is up to us to fight for the protection of animals and to unite in the common goal. We must reduce the impact we have made to the planet and that time to fight is now. 

Don’t curse the darkness, make that one change in your life now. We partnered good friend Louis Psihoyos in his shocking film ‘Racing Extinction’. We are in the Anthropocene age (the age of man) and it’s still in mans power to change our future but you must act today… Watch this film, be shocked and make that change NOW. 

Anne Brummer

CEO Save Me Trust 



 Eat less meat 


Don’t curse the darkness, light one candle


The last frog 


Time is running out 


Saturday 22nd  October 2016

Just a word or two to say thanks so much for all your lovely words and wishes dear folks.

I got myself in a very depleted state and have taken the decision now to clear my diary of everything until the end of the year. I'm leaving today on a big steel bird to spend some time recharging in a safe place. Need to turn off the phones and media for a while.

Apologies to everyone involved in the things I will miss. I have to get away and prioritise healing - sometimes there is no choice.

Bless ya all.

Love Bri


Friday  21st  October  2016

Brian and Kerry Christmas Concert Tour 2016 

We’re very sad today to announce the indefinite postponement of our ‘candlelight’ concert dates this coming December.  This is a decision I’ve agonized over, but in the end it has become inevitable. I managed to complete the recent Queen and Adam Lambert dates in Asia but I have been increasingly battling with a persistent illness which is destroying my energy and my will.  

I am now at the point where I don’t feel confident to perform the scheduled shows to the standard we all expect. I’ve been strongly advised to rest and heal, rather than go out and risk ‘falling down on the job’ out there, which would be a real tragedy. I’m convinced it’s much better taking the step to cancel the dates now, refunding the fans for the ticket sales, and giving all our team a chance to re-plan their time in December.   

Sincere apologies to all. 



Friday  21st  October  2016


Brian and Kerry Christmas Concert Tour 2016

Brian May and Kerry Ellis today announced with great regret the indefinite postponement of their December concert dates in the UK. May and Ellis were set to perform 11 ‘Candlelight Concerts’ in the three weeks leading up to Christmas. Apologizing to fans through a personal message posted on his official website, ( Queen’s Brian May explains that he is fighting ‘a persistent illness which is destroying my energy and my will’, and doesn’t feel confident to perform the shows to the standard expected.

May comments: “I’m gutted to have to pull out - I hate letting our loyal fans down. But the advice I have had is that I must take time off to heal, rather than go out on tour again and risk falling down on the job, which would be much worse.”

Kerry Ellis comments: "Brian is a dear friend of mine and obviously his health must come first. I was so looking forward to touring the UK again with Brian. I know so many of you had bought tickets for an early Christmas treat, and I am truly sorry that we are letting so many of you down. But we will be back next year for sure, with new music for you all to hear.”

A consolation for disappointed fans is a newly recorded studio album from May and Ellis, titled ‘Anthems II’, which is scheduled for release in March.

All tickets already purchased are fully refundable at point of purchase.


SOAPBOX PAGE -  Brian’s apology
BRIAN NEWS PAGE - Press Release at
Both connect to each other.
The Soapbox apology item is flagged also on Home Page 



An elephant is killed every 15 minutes in Africa - more than 140,000 elephants have been poached between 2007 and 2014 - their blood stained bodies discarded in the bush. Now it's time for the UK to take a stand for elephants and demonstrate global leadership by closing the UK’s domestic ivory markets. 

Save Me Trust is calling for the British government to close the antique and modern ivory markets and stop the transit of any ivory products through the UK before the International Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London in February 2018.

The UK should not have any part in the global illegal ivory trade. Introducing a ban sends a powerful message that the UK is committed to the protection of the world’s threatened elephants and reinforces the UK’s role as a global leader in tackling illegal wildlife trade.

The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 but in many countries, including the US, UK and China, domestic trade is still allowed for antiques. However, the reality is that without stopping the ivory trade dead we will kill all the elephants and drive these incredible animals to extinction in our lifetimes.

China and the US have acted; we must too. Ivory trading ensures poaching continues. In the last year, we’ve seen huge steps in the battle against elephant poaching including China - which has the world’s largest ivory market - announcing they will ban domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. Only the full closure of the UK’s domestic market will effectively contribute to international efforts to tackle the illegal ivory trade and protect elephants.

Anne Brummer, CEO of Save Me Trust, said “We have seen a never ending ‘circle of destruction’ since the ivory stock piles were sold off in 1998 and again in 2008, this has reignited the demand and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of elephants - it has to stop - we need to kill the trade before it kills all the elephants. I have been meeting with Michael Gove and am very impressed with his support and commitment on this issue."

Save Me Trust’s proposal, given to Environment Minister Rt Hon Michael Gove, is set to outlaw the sale of all ivory in the UK - antique or modern - and ban the transit of ivory products through the UK. It is being supported by Lord Stockton, Boris Johnson, Stanley Johnson and William Hague.

The proposal would not require the destruction of any ivory products. Family heirlooms and historic items made from or containing ivory would be allowed to be passed on to family members or given to museums, but not bought, sold or traded for goods in kind.

Museums would be allowed to acquire, display and exchange collections from around the world and items of significant historical importance can be saved for the nation.

Antique furniture which contains less than 5% ivory and less than 200 grams in weight and antique Miniatures which were painted between 17th-19th century on thin slithers of ivory would need to be self-certified by the antique trade. The seller would be responsible for certification of the item prior to sale. The 1947 classification would be scrapped, meaning it would be illegal to sell all ivory, irrespective of its age. 

Musical instruments which may contain ivory which is less than 5% of the item and less than 200 grams can be taken abroad, bought or sold. Specific instruments would need an exemption, for example, some piano ivory keys and bagpipes. Each instrument would require an individual exemption certificate.

Save Me is also calling on the British government to issue an end date for the sale of new musical instruments that include ivory to be sold in the UK.

Save Me has been actively campaigning to stop the UK ivory trade. Last autumn they started a government petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures and forced a debate in parliament that took place in February 2017. At the time Dr. Brian May said; “These sentient beings and their multi-generation family groups are being driven to extinction because of human greed and a desire for ‘trinkets’. This has to stop. How could we begin to explain that we let elephants become extinct on our watch!"

12th August 2017 World Elephant Day

History has been unkind to elephants - bloody unkind. Throughout history, the human desire for ivory - used in products from jewellery and religious artefacts to ‘trinkets' - has far outmatched efforts to stop the killing of African elephants for their tusks. Ivory has been desired since antiquity because its relative softness made it easy to carve into intricate decorative items for the very wealthy. 

An estimated 26 million elephants roamed throughout Africa when the first European traders and explorers arrived (c1500-1800). The traders soon became hunters when they discovered ivory. They needed a way to transport the heavy ivory to the coast, but due to "sleeping sickness" that affected horses, cattle and donkeys, people were the primary movers of goods. The need for human porters meant that the growing slave and ivory trades went hand-in-hand, particularly in the east and central Africa.

Brian May talks about the Ivory Trade 

In the 19th century, the European empires stretched across Africa. The elephant population halved within a century to around ten million. Ivory is in vogue in Europe and America. Combs, piano keys, pool table balls and ornaments fashioned from elephant tusks are in high demand. Tragically, by the beginning of the 20th century, Africa’s elephant populations had been reduced to 1.3 million due to the insatiable demand from the West.

In the 1950's and 60’s, as many African countries became independent, most increased colonial game and legislation laws that made hunting illegal or permitting it only with the purchase of expensive licences. Hunting had become the exclusive preserve of the wealthy - an image that continues to this day.

It didn’t stop poaching and the ivory trade though. Throughout the 1980s, around 250 elephants were being killed EVERY DAY. By the end of the decade, less than 600,000 elephants remained. In Kenya alone, the population dropped by 89% during the decade from 167,000 to just 19,000. The African elephant was on the brink of extinction.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned all commercial ivory trade which came into force in 1990. Kenya destroyed its entire ivory stockpile in a gesture against the ivory trade.

After the ban - and with the world united in conservation efforts over the last ten years of the century - elephant populations began to recover. Kenya’s population jumped from 55,000 to over 125,000 but this success came with a cost. In 1998, under mounting pressure from African leaders whose citizens faced poverty and drought, they allowed a ‘one-off’ sale of stockpiled ivory.

Japan bought 55 tonnes of ivory from Zimbabwe & Namibia for £3 million. In 2008, CITES granted Japan and China permission to import elephant ivory from government stockpiles; 102 tonnes of stockpiled ivory from Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe were sold to Japan and China for £9.3 million completely legally. 

The CITES ban, an insatiable lust for ivory from an increasingly wealthy Asia and the massive profits soon attracted the interest of professional gangs involved in the mass slaughter of whole herds from helicopter gunships as the trade became second only to drugs on the world’s black markets.

Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China tripled driving illicit poaching, whilst elephant numbers dropped by 62%. Over 100 elephants were being killed EVERY DAY. Shamefully, in 2016 - there are more African elephants being killed for ivory than are being born. We are still driving these magnificent sentient beings towards extinction.

Bull elephants with big tusks are the poacher’s main targets and their numbers have been diminished to less than half of the females. Female African elephants also have tusks. Elephants are matriarchal and live within a structured group. When the Bulls and Matriarch females are killed, the youngsters are not only orphaned but have had their group structure destroyed. Generations of knowledge is lost.

The Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant’s habitat ranges over 13 countries. They are endangered with less than 40,000 remaining worldwide – that’s less than 10% of the African elephant population. 

Wild Asian elephants suffer severe habitat loss in some of the most densely human-populated countries on the planet. Their traditional territories and migration routes have been fragmented by development, highways and industrial mono-crops such as palm oil and rubber tree plantations, which have destroyed millions of hectares of forest ecosystems. 

With no access to their natural habitat, elephants are forced into deadly confrontations with humans where neither species wins. Asian elephants are also poached for their ivory tusks, meat and body parts while baby elephants are captured from the wild and sold into the tourism industry. Worldwide, Asian elephants are trained, traded and used for entertainment in tourist parks and circuses and also for illegal logging activities. These captive elephants are often mistreated, abused and confined to sub-standard facilities without adequate veterinarian care.

Elephants and humans share a long history, yet there is still so much we don’t know about them. They do have the largest brain of any land animal; they are smart, sentient, social and empathetic - qualities we strive for ourselves. We share so many characteristics with elephants that they may well be more like us than any other animal.

Elephants are a keystone species. It means they create and maintain the ecosystem in which they live and create the biodiversity that makes it possible for a myriad of flora and fauna species to live in those environments as well. 

Are we really the generation that will oversee the extinction of the largest land mammal on our planet? What a tragic and shameful legacy to leave for our children and grandchildren, a handful of ‘carved trinkets’ and a couple of elephants caged in a zoo. All species of elephants have the capacity to deliver a cubic ton of dung a week. Their depletion in numbers has meant that the seeds passed in this dung is a factor in reducing the natural rejuvenation of the areas they live in. Sign up to our newsletter and support us by becoming a "Friend of Save Me" 

Save Me Trust Statement - Ivory

Elephants are being murdered for their tusks every day. These sentient beings and their multi-generation family groups are being driven to extinction because of human greed and a desire for ‘trinkets’. This has to stop. How could we begin to explain that we let elephants become extinct on our watch. We do not believe that allowing the sale of ivory on a free market will help save wild elephants.

The recent experience of CITES allowing the sale of stockpiled ivory in 1998 and again in 2008 has seen the price of ivory triple in China and across Asia, with whole industries being set up to carve ivory again. This now fuels more demand that drives the black market price higher and sends criminal gangs rushing to Africa to murder wild elephants. We have created a never ending cycle of destruction.

We call upon CITES and all member countries, including the UK, to bring about an immediate end to the export of live animals and furthermore, to end the export of their body parts.


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... Dr. Hayato Sakurai, Curator .

We want a total ban on ‘Third Party Sales of Puppies‘ to bring an end to puppy farming.

Approximately 1.5 million dogs are sold in pet shops and they are most likely from puppy farms. Almost half the people who buy a puppy never see the mum. Puppies are mostly bred on farms in awful conditions, many from sick and injured mums. Around one in five puppies bought from pet shops or the internet suffer from parvovirus; an often fatal disease which can cost up to £4,000 to treat.

If you don't buy them, they can’t do this……………don't complete the cycle. Ask #WheresMum

The Kennel Club says that ‘A puppy farmer is defined as a high volume breeder who breeds puppies with little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents. A puppy farmer's main intent is profit. As a result, they typically separate puppies from their mothers too early (8 weeks is generally recommended), ignore guidelines about the maximum frequency of litters (the Kennel Club will not normally register more than four litters from any one bitch because of concerns that the current legal limit of six litters per bitch can be potentially detrimental to a dog's welfare), provide inadequate socialisation of puppies, sell puppies through third parties (i.e. away from the environment in which they are raised), keep puppies in poor husbandry conditions and fail to follow breed specific health schemes or to apply basic, routine health measures such as immunisation and worming. As a result, the puppies bred by puppy farmers are more likely to suffer from common, preventable, infectious diseases, painful or chronic inherited conditions, behavioural issues and shorter life spans.

According to the most recent Kennel Club Puppy Awareness Week (PAW) survey, one in five dog owners spend a lot more on vet's fees than they anticipated when first buying a dog. This increases to more than one in three (38%) when the puppy is supplied by a pet shop. In total 41% of people who have bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53% did not see its breeding environment, meaning those puppies are highly likely to have been bred by puppy farmers and sold by third parties (2014 Kennel Club PAW survey).

Breeding of Dogs Act 1973

The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 (as amended by the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999) licences breeding establishments and the sale of dogs.  This legislation set out a regime for local authorities to license and inspect dog breeding establishments within their jurisdiction, which should have gone some way to tackle puppy farming.

However, problems with enforcement have meant that it has not curbed the activity of puppy farmers as local authorities lack the resources and expertise to properly address poor breeding practices and current guidance on selling puppies in pet shops is unclear.

Current legislation has not curbed puppy farming. We want the law to change so that every puppy (and kitten) has to be sold with it’s mum. We believe this will effect between 40 and 80,000 puppies immediately. It will halt the importation of poor and weak puppies from puppies farms in the UK and abroad.

If you don't buy them, they won't do this.


  • Ask to see the puppy’s mother, which should be present.
  • See the puppy in its breeding environment and ask to look at the kennelling conditions, if they were not raised within the breeder’s house. If you suspect the conditions are not right, then do not buy the puppy.
  • For a pedigree puppy always go to reliable and reputable Kennel Club Assured Breeders which you can find here. If you want to find breeders currently with puppies visit the Kennel Club's Find a Puppy website here. Assured Breeders will appear at the top of the search with purple scheme logos next to their name. Click here for more information on the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme, or call 0844 463 3980.
  • Be prepared to be put on a waiting list – a healthy puppy is well-worth waiting for.
  • Ask if you can return the puppy if things don’t work out. Responsible and reputable breeders will always say yes.
  • Be suspicious of a breeder selling more than one (maximum two) breed, unless you are sure of their credentials.
  • Consider alternatives to buying a pedigree puppy like getting a rescue dog or pup. Click here to find a rescue puppy.


  • Buy a puppy from a pet shop – these have often come from puppy farms.
  • Pick your puppy up from a ‘neutral location’ such as a car park or motorway service station. This is a common tactic used by puppy farm dealers.
  • Buy a puppy because you feel like you’re rescuing it. You’ll only be making space available for another poorly pup to fill.
  • Be fooled by a Kennel Club pedigree certificate. These are often faked by puppy farmers who are already operating illegally and have no qualms about forging paperwork. The majority of puppy farmers will not register their litters with the Kennel Club. If in doubt check with the Kennel Club.

Buy from a rescue or a registered breeder and always make sure ‘mum’ is there when you see the puppy. Mum will be confident with her pups and will not be nervous around them.  

Let’s change the law and the lives of these forgotten mums and puppies. 

Make it law to buy a puppy ONLY with it’s mum present. 


PupAid Campaign click here

Cariad Campaign click here 

IFAW  Campaign  click here      #NoMumNoSale

RSPCA click here

”It goes without saying that the import of animal body parts as trophies should be banned outright by the British Government. I'm really shocked that they haven't already done it, in truth, the whole world should do it.” Dr. Brian May Founder of The Save Me Trust.

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The most extreme version of trophy hunting is “Canned Hunting”. The animals which are born in captivity are taken away from their mothers within hours of being born so they can be used in petting zoos. When they become of age they then spend the rest of their life in caged compounds waiting to be released in a larger compound for the so called ‘canned’ hunt. 

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The season for red grouse shooting starts today. Tens of thousands of red grouse will be shot over the next two months covering the Moors of Britain in rivers of blood.

The shooting estates claim that grouse shooting is a traditional field sport but that isn’t true. The claim is similar to that made by the Countryside Alliance to defend fox hunting, but grouse shooting has a terrible impact on the environment and other wildlife to the cost of every taxpayer and 70% of the nation’s homes.

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It's been three years since the first saplings were planted in May's Wood in Dorset by people who came along voluntarily to help Doctor Brian May realise his dream of creating a native woodland. On September 28th 2013, hundred's gathered to listen enthusiastically as 'Dr Brian' shared his vision of a place where wildlife and humans could enjoy the peace and tranquillity that trees and meadows can provide. "It was truly one of the most memorable and different days of my life." Dr May said after he had mingled happily with the eager participants, mainly from the nearby villages of Bere Regis and Shitterton.

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In the North of England and Scotland, the shooting of game birds and mammals is widespread. Habitat and 'predator management' are undertaken to increase game abundance and hunting bags and thus profits.

The Grouse moor managers and Gamekeepers claim major conservation benefits as a result of traditional and 'sympathetic' moorland management. They say if the control of generalist predators by gamekeepers ceased, lapwing and golden plover numbers would drop by 81% and curlew by 47% within 10 years.

So what is really happening?

Red Grouse

Red Grouse is a subspecies of Willow Ptarmigan, a species with low breeding densities (0.1 to 10 pairs per km2) across northern Europe, northern Eurasia and North America.  However, in the UK - where intensive habitat management, predator control and routine medication are used on Grouse Moors - there is an exceptionally high population of 150 to 500 birds per km2 (post-breeding densities).

The Red Grouse are bred to be driven or flushed over static lines of shooters, for sport, for fun and for profit. 

The management of British Grouse Moors takes place in an environment in which landowners set their own bag (Kill) limits and establish the management to deliver these targets, with the Government only regulating quarry species, hunting season and permitted hunting methods. There is no statutory requirement for hunters to report their bags, although records are collected by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), whose links to the shooting and hunting groups are well reported. 

This combination of intensive shooting practice and weak regulation is unique to the UK and highlights the issues that arise from weak regulation and monitoring.

Red Grouse Shooting

The Red Grouse season that runs from 12th August until 10th December annually is considered the prestige event in the shooting calendar. Grouse are driven by lines of ‘beaters’ to fly over a row of shooters who expect to kill more grouse in a day (30 to 40 each) than on a ‘walked-up’ shoot, where hunters walk in line using dogs to “flush" grouse to ‘the guns’. Most of this shooting takes place on private land and large fees are expected. 

A ‘Shooting area' of approximately 850,000 hectares (Douglas et al., 2015) and a dramatic increase in Red Grouse population - 90% increase from 171 per km2 (1991 to 1994) to 325 per km2 (2010 to 2014) in England and a 74% increase from 81 to 141 per km2 over the same period in Scotland - has resulted in increased disease. Red Grouse are vulnerable to strongylosis, a disease caused by the gastrointestinal nematode Trichostrongylustenuis which depresses body condition, may cause death and can reduce brood sizes and population densities (Redpath et al., 2006). Red Grouse are also susceptible to louping ill, a virus causing encephalomyelitis in sheep that is also carried by wild mammals such as hares and deer; it is transmitted by the tick (Ixodes ricinus (Watson & Moss, 2008)).

Predator Control

Gamekeepers openly kill predators of grouse to maximise the shootable surplus. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Stoat (Mustela erminea) Weasel (Mustela nivalis) and various corvid species are shot and trapped legally. However, illegal trapping, shooting, snaring and poisoning of protected birds of prey, such as Hen Harriers and protected mammals also takes place. To reduce the infection risk from louping ill, some gamekeepers routinely shoot Mountain Hares and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus (Watson & Moss, 2008, Newborn & Baines, 2012)).

There is no evidence that culling Mountain Hares and Red Deer reduces the risk as both ticks and louping ill virus persists even when tick hosts occur at very low densities (Gilbert et al., 2001, Harrison et al., 2010), so the scientific case for culling Mountain Hares is weak (Werritty et al., 2015).

The illegal killing of Raptors, especially Hen Harriers has raised awareness of the issues of grouse hunting and we are supporting Mark Avery and Chris Packham highlighting the industries desire to kill Raptors to protect their investment in Red Grouse. 

The illegal use of poisons to kill predators is a regular practice for Gamekeepers who actively manage moors for grouse shooting (Whitfield et al., 2003). Hen Harriers are almost entirely absent from driven grouse moors across the UK. Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and Red Kites (Milvus milvus) have been illegally killed in Scotland, predominantly in areas managed for grouse shooting (Whitfield et al., 2006 & 2007, Smart et al., 2010). The breeding performance of Peregrines (Falco peregrinusis) is lower on grouse moors than any other habitats in the UK, with 66% of pairs failing to produce any young, even though clutch and brood sizes of successful nests do not differ between grouse moors and other habitats (Amar et al., 2012).

Mark Avery, former RSPB Director said; ”Grouse shooting is all about killing wildlife. The point is to kill lots of Red Grouse for fun and depends on the killing of huge numbers of foxes, stoats, weasels, crows etc. Too often, protected species are killed too because they eat Red Grouse. 2600 pairs of Hen Harriers should nest in the UK but there are only circa 600 because of illegal persecution by grouse shooting interests".

Grouse Moor Management

Red Grouse depend on moorland habitats comprising of blanket bog and heath beyond the limits of enclosed agriculture (Watson & Moss, 2008). These habitats and the breeding bird populations they support in the UK are of international conservation importance (Thompson et al., 1995), with large areas protected under national and international law. Moorlands also provide regulatory and cultural ecosystem services. That means the Estate owners are being subsidised by the UK taxpayer to maintain these vitally important habitats and eco-systems. 

Critically, these Moors provide 70% of drinking water in Britain, and support peatlands in England and Scotland that are the largest carbon store in the UK, amounting to almost 1800 Mt (Bonn et al., 2009, Chapman et al., 2009 & Alonso et al., 2012).

Burning and Vegetation control

Whilst Estate Managers claim traditional and sympathetic control of the land, Red Grouse need young, nutritious Heather shoot tips (Calluna vulgaris) and use older, deeper heather for nesting and protective cover. Vegetation is burned on rotation to create and maintain a mosaic of different ages of heather and other dwarf shrubs to benefit grouse (Hudson, 1992). Reductions in grazing densities of sheep and deer and control of Bracken (Pteridium aquiline) by herbicide spraying are also used to maintain heather dominance (Grant et al., 2012).

Burning reduces nesting cover for birds such as the Merlin (Falco columbarius), Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus). Dominant heather cover disfavours species associated with grassy moorland such as Skylark (Alauda arvensis) and Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis (Tharme et al., 2001, Pearce-Higgins & Grant, 2006)), and prevents successional recovery of scrub and woodland and its associated biodiversity (Watson & Moss, 2008). 

The intensive management of Moors for Grouse has seen burning rotations becoming much shorter, and the number of annual burns is increasing. Moorlands overlying deep peat soils - that often support blanket bog and wet heath - are routinely burned (Yallop et al., 2006, Douglas et al., 2015). This occurs in protected areas, despite government regulations (Scottish Government, 2011; see Appendix S1), and the fact that repeated burning of blanket bog is inconsistent with international responsibilities to maintain and restore blanket bog to favourable conservation status. As a result, only 14% of UK upland peatland habitats are in good condition (Committee on Climate Change, 2015) because burning of blanket bog and wet heath can lead to long-term loss of bog-forming Sphagnum mosses in favour of Heather (Glaves et al., 2013). The result is degradation or loss of peat formation and carbon sink conditions (Garnett et al., 2000, Ward et al., 2007).

Burning also impacts water supply with associated economic consequences. It causes DOC (dissolved organic carbon) and water discolouration. The water companies have to clean the water and their customers bear the cost - (that’s you and me - Mr and Mrs Householder (Grayson et al., 2012)). 

The increase in floods in recent years is not a coincidence. The removal of surface vegetation also increases run-off so that in the most intense rainfall events, flow peaks downstream are exacerbated (Holden et al., 2015). 

The Grouse shooting industry make bold and exaggerated claims of the benefits it brings to UK Plc but these are weak and easily dismissed. 

UK taxpayers are paying to maintain a bio-diverse habitat, rich in flora and fauna, that is vital for our water supply and flood defences as well as local and international conservation importance. Yet it is being transformed into a sterile monoculture suitable for one species to suit a business venture based on the wholesale murder of Red Grouse for two months every year. And what becomes of those grouse? Most are so full of lead that they are dangerously toxic, they cannot be sold and are therefore buried in pits. 

Mark Avery’s concise summary condemns the Grouse shooting industry. 

”Grouse shooting is simply a hobby, a pastime. If train-spotting wrecked the ecology of the places it occurred then we’d ban it. Grouse shooting requires densities of Red Grouse way above natural levels which are produced by intense predator control, heather-burning and moorland drainage. This unsustainable land management to benefit Red Grouse – which are then shot for fun – short-changes the rest of us."

"Did you know that intensive grouse moor management increases greenhouse gas emissions (and was recently criticised by the Committee on Climate Change), increases water bills (increased water treatment costs are passed on to customers), increases flood risk (hills hold waterless well and flood risk and home insurance costs increase) and decreases aquatic biodiversity (bad news for fishermen downstream of grouse moors)?"

"Claims that shooting benefits the economy are terribly weak – the sums are exaggerated and ignore the costs of ecosystem damage, and so do not give a proper account. Your taxes subsidise the whole sorry activity too."

"Grouse shooting is all about killing wildlife. The point is to kill lots of Red Grouse for fun and depends on the legal killing of huge numbers of foxes, stoats, weasels, crows etc. Too often, protected species are killed too because they are unsporting enough to eat Red Grouse. 2600 pairs of Hen Harrier s should nest in the UK but there are only circus 600 because of illegal persecution by grouse shooting interests.

Further reading: Inglorious - Conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery

On Tuesday 26th April 2016, Dr Brian May and Anne Brummer launched a joint campaign to save Britain's hedgehogs in Portcullis House, London. The campaign is called #AmazingGrace in honour of Grace a rescue hedgehog that came into Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue last autumn, underweight and suffering from 'fly-strike' in a deep wound to her neck.

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In 2015, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced her government would hold a review of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002. In December, it was confirmed that the review would be led by Lord Bonomy with a consultation process starting in February and finishing by the end of March.

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In the UK, we have a long history of reform brought about by peaceful protest - from the ‘Chartists’ and suffrages, the abolition of slavery, to the reform of our parliamentary system. We are deeply concerned about the comments of the National Farmers Union last week that claimed information relating to the badger cull being published was variously, “illegal activity, attempting to intimidate farmers” and the “reprehensible” action of “leaking information which could lead to farming families being targeted”.  

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The Save Me Trust are aware of a series of horrific incidents. We are primarily concerned with wild animals but feel that this case is so appalling and local that we should support finding this barbaric killer of animals.

Please contact us with any information that you may have.