FROM TODAY, a group of armed bullies will once again pretend that they’re sportspeople and prowl the moorlands so they can massacre birds.

The Glorious Twelfth – the “Inglorious Twelfth” would be more fitting – marks the start of the red grouse shooting season.

Its toll, though, isn’t limited to the hundreds of thousands of grouse who will die before the bloodshed ends – or even the countless foxes, stoats, hawks, squirrels, falcons, weasels, and owls who will be trapped, poisoned, and gunned down to ensure that there are plenty of grouse to kill.

Shooters almost always use ammunition made from lead, a hazardous toxin that can remain in the ecosystem and poison wildlife.

Hunting groups may fire off as many as 1,700 shells a day.

To stimulate the growth of heather shoots for young grouse to eat, landowners set fire to the moors every year.

Peatlands are among the world’s most valuable ecosystems and are critical for preserving global biodiversity, providing safe drinking water, minimising flooding, and addressing climate change.

Burning them emits some 260,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Clearly, grouse shooters don’t care who they victimise.

But we should. It’s time that the Glorious Twelfth were banned.

Jennifer White,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Society Building All Saints Street