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The Gamekeepers Job

Heather being burnt

Heather being burnt

At this time of year, you will often see smoke billowing high up on the moors around the Yorkshire Dales. For some this might cause alarm but rest assured these fires are created by the local gamekeepers who play an essential role in the conservation of the dale’s countryside.

The Gamekeepers job is to manage the land to ensure that the wildlife thrives in their habitat. This includes managing both upland and low land (moorland and farmland) and areas of woodland and waterways (streams, rivers and ponds). Another aspect is conserving the wildlife for country sports to ensure there are enough healthy game for shooting and enough fish for angling.

The Yorkshire Dales is renowned for its breath-taking scenery and stunning moorland. It is also recognised as one of the UK’s most exciting areas for grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting. However, this hasn’t occurred without a lot of hard work from the Gamekeepers who work relentlessly, no matter the weather, to maintain the heather moorland in which the game inhabits.

By maintaining the moorland through regulated burning of the heather to produce new heather shoots not only gives the shooting game the habitat they require to flourish but, also results in a positive outcome for “at risk” species such as the dormouse, spotted flycatcher and a variety of butterfly species. The old heather which is left gives cover for ground nesting birds such as the grouse and the redshank. It is the Gamekeepers job to help protect these birds and other animals from pests such as rats and predators such as foxes, weasels and stoats through pest control.

The Moorland association have made the following videos to help educate people on the job of the Game keepers.

The Keeper – Grouse Shooting Part 1 

The Keeper – Grouse shooting part 2 

The Keeper – Grouse Shooting Part 3 

Help the Gamekeepers in the Yorkshire Dales

When you visit the Yorkshire Dales please do your bit to help the Gamekeepers:

  • Keep your dog on a lead – if you are walking up on the moorlands remember to keep your dog on a short lead and under control as a dog can easily disturb a ground nesting birds. If disturbed the nesting birds could be scattered away from their mothers and their cover. Exposing them in this manned puts them at risk from predators.
  • Also if sheep are breeding it is important to keep your dog on a lead as if a dog were to chase a pregnant sheep it could easily miscarry.
  • Smoking – smoking on the moors can be very dangerous and costly to the wild habitat. A cigarette can be the cause of moor fires. Please do not be responsible for a moor fire and if you must spoke be sure to put out the cigarette safely and to take the butt with you.
  • Open and closed gates – throughout the dales you will see gates sometimes open and sometimes shut. Please do not change the status of these gates as they have been opened or closed for a purpose. They open the gates to allow livestock to move around, perhaps to new food or to water and they close the gates to separate them. Changing the status of the gates could be detrimental to these animals.