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Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands Paperback – 28 Jul 2016
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A powerful indictment of the grouse-shooting industry and its illegal shooting and propaganda war against the hen harrier. (the Guardian 2015-12-05)
No other book this year put the cat amongst the pigeons (or rather, the game birds) like Avery's impassioned investigation into driven grouse shooting and its impact on moorland ecology. (The Times)
This is a book you must read whether or not you support such shooting. (Highland News Group)
Pacy and passionate, this is nature writing that insists you sit up and take note. (Stephanie Cross The Lady)
Mr Avery writes with a light touch and endearing self-depreciation. He's passionate (obsessed?) about the hen harrier. (Country Life)
A hard-hitting, passionate and well-researched book about the conflict between driven grouse shooting and nature conservation in Britain, with a foreword by Chris Packham. One of 2015s Books of the Year in The Times and The Mail on Sunday.See all Product description
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It's very difficult for me to talk objectively about this book's subject - a subject I feel very strongly about - but I'll give it a go. Mark Avery is currently pioneering the argument to ban driven grouse shooting, and 'Inglorious' is his manifesto. It's a thorough, detailed and exhaustive exploration of all aspects of this peculiar British past-time, comprised of 6 chapters. The first, a biological assessment of the Hen Harrier - the sport's most persecuted raptor; the second and third, a history of grouse moors, their ownership and their participants; the fourth, a biographical journal of 2014 - the year the landscape of campaigns against the sport shifted; the fifth, a fictitious account of an ex-gamekeeper after the sport has been banned in 2046; and lastly, the 'Endgame'. So, it's safe to say that this book is all over the place. The structure spins off in all directions, making for a somewhat tedious read - but the facts are there and, when taking a stance as polemic as this one, they need to be. Avery knows this and calls upon cited studies, DEFRA figures and comments, witness statements and FOI releases. This book is nothing if not thorough to the T.
The most enlightening illumination - though perhaps not the most surprising - is the discovery that, when raptors are allowed to thrive on grouse moors, the shootable surplus of Red Grouse reduce significantly enough that driven grouse shooting becomes economically unviable on that moor. So, Avery muses - how can driven grouse shooting remain a profitable activity whilst upholding the law? In this case, respecting and adhering to the legal protection placed on birds of prey that nest on moors. The short answer - they can't. It's as simple as that. So when DEFRA release idiotic statements claiming that it is possible to intensively manage a grouse moor whilst respecting the law that protects Britain's birds of prey, it's simply a horrid and misleading untruth.
This 'harmless' country pastime, as sold to us by the Countryside Alliance and the like, requires the intensive management of the uplands: predators of any kind are trapped, shot or poisoned, heather is burnt on a regular basis and grouse are sometimes medicated - what is natural about any of this? In the absence of persecution, England's uplands could support up to 250 pairs of Hen Harriers, and yet we are struggling to hold on to 3 or 4 successful nestlings each year south of the Scottish border. As Chris Packham aptly articulates, the birds killed on these moors are our national treasures; we are being robbed blind of our national heritage by a tiny minority of the population - sadly a minority of politically well-connected, obscenely wealthy individuals.
Avery concedes in the book, somewhat reluctantly, that driven grouse shooting and birds of prey cannot live alongside one another any longer - and the law is on the side of the birds. The end of driven grouse shooting is inevitable he says, and I believe him. Its economic value is trivial, but its impacts on wildlife and environment are huge. It's a 'countryside activity that harms the countryside' - but even aside from the countryside and wildlife, its environmental impact is disastrous. Peat bogs, for example, are natural carbon sinks - but as grouse moor management requires and results in the burning of them, the sport in effect is releasing thousands and thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year - just what we need!
Endgame - a call to arms. The demise of this atrocity some call a sport is inevitable - but it can be accelerated by getting involved. It's a simple choice between doing what is right for wildlife, the landscape, the environment and our national heritage if you're one of the, er, majority who would rather not pay £35,000 for a day of driven grouse shooting. It's so awfully simple. Be on the right side of history here folks. Sign the e-petition.
NOTE: For those interested, Chris Packham is hosting a Hen Harrier day in London, 6th August at Rainham Marshes - show your support.