Over 25,000 days of seasonal employment provided in the Yorkshire Dales

With this year’s grouse season having officially ended today (December 10th) the local Yorkshire Dales community is reflecting on what was a successful year with most estates having witnessed busy programmes of days on offer right the way through the season.

A recent survey conducted across 25 estates in the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group (YDMG) found that a total of 500 driven days were hosted throughout the four-month season on these estates across the region. 

On average, each grouse moor employed an extra 50 members of staff on each day, which includes beaters, loaders, flankers, pickers-up, house and catering staff. 

This equates to an estimated total of 25,000 workdays of additional employment having been provided throughout the 2019 grouse season, benefiting local youngsters, pensioners and migrant workers.    

This seasonal work is in addition to the 75 full-time gamekeepers employed year-round by estate members of YDMG to manage the moors to encourage wild red grouse.

Sonya Wiggins, coordinator of the YDMG, said:

“Our moorlands matter and they have been in hot demand. We welcomed a good influx of international visitors from across Europe and the US, as well as a lot of repeat bookings from UK-wide parties to the Yorkshire Dales who continue to enjoy the sport we have to offer and our beautiful countryside. These visitors are a vital boost to the local economy supporting rural businesses during the tourism off-season.

“Managing moorland for red grouse is vitally important to fragile and remote rural communities in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits and is a lifeline for many local businesses in the Yorkshire Dales. Yet these communities are vital to maintaining the moorlands as an oasis for wildlife, natural landscapes and places to visit. Thankfully we managed to bounce back this year having witnessed a very poor season last year due to unfavourable weather conditions. A good season is significantly more beneficial to the area and is dependent on how well the wild red grouse breed in the spring.

“Offering local employment opportunities for youngsters right up to retirees and even professionals who all enjoy the feeling of wellbeing after a day out on the moors together is one of the most anticipated social events of the calendar. Being able to generate over 25,000 days of seasonal employment as a result of the four-month grouse season is essential for the survival of our small villages in the Dales.

One local business reliant on a good grouse season is local North Yorkshire gamedealer, L&A Dent. 

 Andrew Dent of L&A Gamedealers said:

“Coming off the back of a poor season in terms of grouse numbers in 2018, we have witnessed a slight rise in the amount of wild red grouse for the plate this year and are up around 20% on business. However, it was a bit of a mixed bag, one moor broke its all-time record whilst some moors had no shooting at all.  

“There is a huge international market for grouse and this is without doubt the most important market to our grouse shooting industry. The export market for the ‘old’ grouse was strong this year and it was nice to be able to supply this market as last year very few birds reached export channels. 

“The domestic grouse market is predominantly a ‘young’ bird market and it was pretty much standard this season. We supply outlets throughout Yorkshire as well as national butchers and top restaurants in London. It would be fantastic if every pub and restaurant got the opportunity to put grouse on their menu as it is delicious and healthy and during a big season we need as many outlets as possible to sell it.

“Not only is a good season great for our business it bolsters the local economy. We have a loyal workforce many of whom have been working with us for over seven years and being able to offer permanent employment to local residents in our remote corner of Yorkshire is vitally important.”

Red grouse is one of only a handful of birds native solely to the UK and lives on moors. Gamekeepers managed the habitat all year for the birds to thrive and harvesting the grouse by shooting takes place only where there is a sustainable surplus.

Moorland owners and gamekeepers of the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group carry out vital conservation work on more than 226,000 acres of precious heather moorland across the area, much of which is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)


Photo Credit : Mr T Streeter




Let’s Learn Moor 2019

The first week in July saw the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group welcome 217 school children to Grinton estate which is one of there managed moorlands in the Yorkshire Dales.

The children learnt all about the exceptional conservation work our gamekeepers do, the habitat managed moorlands create and what wildlife thrive on them.

Alongside this we had the following organisations that play their part in protecting and helping our moorlands.

* Swaledale Mountain Rescue

* Richmond Fire & Rescue

* Northern Sky Falconry

* Paul Whent – Local Bee Keeper

Gamekeepers from 6 different estates across the dales spoke to the children over the two days on the following topics…

* Wildlife and predator control

* Gundogs and the role they play

* Heather burning – during this session children were shown the the old fashion and modern day equipment used. We had an ArgoCat on site which is an all terrain vehicle that plays an important part in moorland management as it can handle the most difficult terrain, therefore can get close to most fires with a water tank on the back… the children took turns using the machine to spray the water which was enjoyed by all of them during these warm condition.

A huge thank you to BASC, MA, NGO & Countryside Learning for all their help and support to make this event such a success. It’s wonderful to see all these big organisations working together on such a worthy project.

It wasn’t just us ., all 6 regional moorland groups are taking part in this years #LetsLearnMoor19 showcasing different organisations specific to each area and how they play their part in working along side us.

During this week over 1400 school children have had this fantastic outdoor learning experience., what an amazing week of educating the next generation., without a computer in sight 🙌🏻

Each child went away with one of our #YDMG goodie bags which contains our new colourful fun activity work booklet to continue their learning at home and hopefully encourage them to get back out into the countryside soon! 😊☀️

#letslearnmoor19 #outdooreducation #managedmoorland #yorkshiredales #outdoorclassroom #letslearnmoor #moorlandgroups #conservation #habitat #sharingourpassion #countryside #beingoutdoors #YDMG

Curlew Safaris 2019 @ Bolton Castle, Wensleydale

Saturday 1st June, a selection of our YDMG Gamekeepers took members of the public on Curlew Safaris from Bolton Castle in the heart of Wensleydale.

From the castle they were driven up onto the managed moorland in small groups by an experienced gamekeeper who showed them the habitat where the Curlews and their

chicks favour and that’s it’s not only them thriving up there but a whole host of wildlife, including many other red listed, threatened birds.

On today’s Safaris the guests were treated to seeing lapwing, grouse, shorteared owl, little owl, sparrowhawk, ring ouzel, golden plover, wheatears, redshank, skylark, buzzard and redstart.

Over the last thirty years curlew numbers have fallen by an alarming 20 per cent across the European continent, and in their most western reaches in the Irish Republic there is nothing short of a disaster unfolding. In the 1980s there were around 5,000 pairs of nesting curlews, today there are fewer than 130, a staggering drop of 99 per cent. So alarming are the figures that curlews were made a species of highest conservation concern in the UK in December 2015, and put onto the red list of threatened species by the IUCN, the worldwide union of conservation bodies which monitors the status of animals and plants throughout the globe. They are now in the same category as jaguars, ‘near threatened,’ which means extinction is likely in the future.

Scientific research has shown that where moors are managed by gamekeepers, ground nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing are 3.5 times more likely to raise a chick to fledging. A survey of upland breeding birds in parts of England and Scotland has also found that the densities of golden plover, curlew, redshank and lapwing were up to five-fold greater on managed grouse moors, compared to moorland that was not keepered.

Radio 4 also came along today and spoke to us, this interview will be aired in July.

#curlew #curlewsafaris #redlist #threatened #managedmoorland #favouritehabitat #wildlife #wehavewildlife #gamekeepers #wensleydale #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #YDMG #radio4

Grouse update 2019

Red Grouse are known as the king of game birds… this hen certainly is the queen of motherhood keeping all these chicks in check 🙌🏻

Early brood size monitoring is looking positive and suggest we should have a surplus of Grouse this year on a higher percentage of our moors which mean we can hold more shoot days within the Yorkshire Dales, unlike last season where a lot of estates did not shoot at all.

This had a huge impact on the local economy.

No shoot days = no casual staff needed (beaters, flankers, loaders, pickers up), no caterers needed meaning the local butcher, baker, and green grocer all suffered, there was no hotels needed, no extra vehicle hire, no extra fuel at the local filling stations, no extra trade for local shops.

The absence of grouse was felt not just on the moors, but also on the restaurant menus.

If the weather stays kind to us between now and August we are hopeful for a much better year 🤞🏻

#Grouse #redgrouse #kingofgamebirds #queenofmotherhood #grousechicks #motherhen #brood #localeconomy #gametoeat #fieldtofork #managedmoorland #local #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #YDMG