North York Moors economy benefits from good grouse season

There were over 6,500 days of seasonal employment provided in the North York Moors during the grouse season.

The local North York Moors community is reflecting on what has been a successful grouse season (Aug 12 –Dec 10), with most estates having witnessed busy programmes of days on offer right the way through the season.

The North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation (NYMMO) conducted a survey across 11 estates in its group and found that a total of 186 driven days were hosted throughout the four-month season on these estates across the region. 

An extra 35 members of staff on average are employed by each grouse moor every day throughout the season which includes beaters, loaders, flankers, pickers-up, house and catering staff. 

This equates to an estimated total of 6,510 workdays of additional employment having been provided throughout the 2019 grouse season, offering work opportunities to local youngsters, pensioners and migrant workers.    

This seasonal work is in addition to the 45 full-time gamekeepers employed year-round by estate members of NYMMO to manage the moors. 

Tina Brough, coordinator of the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation, said:  “We have witnessed another good year with most of our estate members welcoming both domestic and international visitors right into the final weeks of the season.

“The grouse season is a lifeline for many in our rural community offering employment opportunities and supporting many local businesses.

“This successful programme is testament to the hard-work and dedication of our gamekeepers and grouse moor managers year-round as well as the private investment by estate owners and sporting tenants in managing moors for red grouse, which also supports vital conservation efforts in the North Yorkshire region.

“Being able to provide over 6,500 workdays of additional employment in the North York Moors over this four month period, as a direct result of the grouse season is testament to the importance of this sector in supporting rural communities that would otherwise struggle to survive, particularly during the winter months.”  

This grouse season attracted many international parties from Europe and further afield including America and Australia to North Yorkshire, as well as a continued stream of repeat bookings from the UK, all offering a much-welcomed tourism injection to the local community.

This allows hotels and restaurants to benefit during the tourism off-season.  One local business reliant on the grouse sector is the Feversham Arms Inn in Farndale, North Yorkshire. 

Rachel Forster, who has been landlady at the Feversham Arms Inn for over 12 years, said:  “The sector is vitally important to our local community. Not only does it offer support to many small businesses during the quieter winter months, it generates a great community spirit with pubs and restaurants very busy with visiting parties as well as locals who come in to enjoy a drink at the bar or a meal in the restaurant. 

“During the season we feature pan-fried grouse on our menu and serve game pie and a selection of other game meat dishes including pheasant, partridge and rabbit.

“They all prove extremely popular with guests and especially out of town customers who regularly visit to sample our delicious game meals.

“We have three bed and breakfast rooms and a holiday cottage which is an important add on to our business model, especially for small groups taking accommodation with us during the season.

“Our business revenue is greatly affected when we witness a poor sporting season as we don’t get as many visiting parties staying or locals spending at the bar as their employment opportunities have been hindered.

“My husband is a retired gamekeeper and now helps on estates as a loader, so we also know first-hand the impact cancelled programmes have on local workdays provided.”

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

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