GROUSE shooting across the North York Moors had one of the best seasons on record creating over 6,000 extra workdays for local people say managers.

The North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Group revealed the area bucked the trend compared to other places where shoots had to be cancelled. They say grouse on the moors braved the beast from the east and the summer drought which meant a full shooting programme through the season from August to December.

Wild red grouse is one of only a handful of birds native to the UK which only lives on moors where habitats are specially managed by estates.

A survey by the group revealed eight of the 11 moors estates recorded a total of 177 driven shoot days with each moor employing an extra 34 staff a day including beaters, loaders, pickers-up and catering staff. The estates also employ 45 full-time gamekeepers.

Tina Brough, of the Moorland Organisation, said: "The success of this season is testament to the hard-work and dedication of our gamekeepers and grouse moor managers who work year-round managing our land for red grouse. This benefits the local community and businesses whilst supporting vital conservation efforts in the North Yorkshire region.

“Grouse shooting is an important tradition and helps sustain the rural economy, especially during the off-season when tourism is limited. Essential part-time and seasonal employment is provided in the shooting season in remote rural areas that would otherwise be lacking. To be able to support over 6,000 extra work days over the past four-month season is extremely important for the survival of small villages in North Yorkshire and offers a vital lifeline for many residents and businesses.

Rosedale resident 75 year old John Dent who works as a seasonal driver for the shoots added: "I know many people who rely on the employment provided by the sporting estates. For me, it is a fantastic social occasion getting me and many others outdoors and into the community."

Lis Rickleton, manager of the Black Swan Hotel in Helmsley said shooting is very much a backbone of the rural community. He added: "This area has been dependant on the downstream revenues generated by shooting during the season and we believe very strongly in supporting our local estates and businesses.We rely on shooting parties to support our business in the off-peak holiday season."