Survey reveals 'significant' economic impact of grouse estates
Scottish grouse estates have a "significant" economic impact on their local communities, according to a new survey.
The report found that the estates spent an average of around £500,000 with local businesses in the last year.
It came as more than 350 gamekeepers, their families and traders took part in a march in Edzell in Angus to mark the upcoming grouse season.
The 18-week season is due to start on Saturday 12 August.
Known as the Glorious Twelfth, animal rights campaigners have condemned the annual event as a "ridiculous tradition".
The survey of 45 Scottish grouse estates was conducted by Scotland's seven regional moorland groups, which highlight the role that estates and grouse shooting play in rural communities.
In analysis of financial accounts for 2015-16, it found that at total of more than £23m flows directly into local businesses in trade generated by the estates' activities.
The sum does not take into account wages paid to gamekeepers or other staff.
And the survey did not look at the sums accommodation providers receive from the influx of visiting shooters.
It found that businesses like local garages and building firms benefited from business worth, on average, £514,886 from each estate.
There were also significant investments made in buildings, public path repairs and renewable energy.
|Regional group||Average downstream economic benefit (per estate)|
|Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group||£656,586.10|
|Angus Glens Moorland Group||£600,608.32|
|Grampian Moorland Group||£312,189.88|
|Loch Ness Rural Communities||£564,451.75|
|Tomatin Moorland Group||£440,065.31|
|Speyside Moorland Group||£664,538|
|Lammermuirs Moorland Group||£466,274.67|
Lianne MacLennan, of Scotland's regional moorland groups, said: "Grouse shooting attracts criticism in some quarters but the survey tells the story of the value of country sports to smaller rural communities.
"The results do not show the wages that keep the gamekeepers and their families in the glen villages. What we wanted to understand better is how the impacts trickle down.
"There is not a rural community in these seven areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business people are deriving from all the work that goes on in these places.
"It is not just shooting-related businesses, either, it is everything from wine sellers to clothing companies, fencers, architects and garages. Those businesses are out in force today, standing shoulder to shoulder with the gamekeepers ahead of another busy season."
The League Against Cruel Sports opposes grouse shooting and the Glorious Twelfth.
Its director, Robbie Marsland, said: "The annual celebration of the start of the grouse shooting season is a ridiculous tradition which has long had its day.
"The Glorious Twelfth is a poor attempt to justify a blood sport which is responsible for the mass killing of wildlife on an industrial scale as well as irreversible damage to the environment."
The majority were in areas which are managed for grouse shooting.
The report has led to the creation of an independently led group to look at the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices.