In 1999 Yorkshire Water, English Nature and the RSPB had begun re-introducing red kites into West Yorkshire. During the consultation process, grouse moor interests expressed concern about the potentially disturbing effects of red kites and other raptors on driven grouse shooting. In order to assess levels of raptor disturbance to driven grouse shooting, systematic observations were carried out during a total of 63 grouse drives in North Yorkshire and Durham during September and October 1999. Raptors were observed by the project officer on nine drives, but there was only one drive where a raptor was considered to have caused disturbance to grouse. The survey work showed that raptors caused very little disturbance to drives (2% disturbed). A larger percentage of drives were cancelled due to bad weather (3%). When casual observations from gamekeepers were combined with data collected systematically by the project officer, the proportion of drives where disturbance was recorded increased, but was still relatively low. Gamekeepers who took part in the project agreed that the disturbance of driven grouse by raptors appeared to be minimal during the 1999 shooting season. Grouse numbers were generally low during the 1999 shooting season. In years when grouse densities are higher, incidents of disturbance involving raptors may be higher as high grouse densities may attract more raptors. For information on later studies see the related report at the link below.
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