A CALL for a review into grouse shooting has been backed by cosmetic firm Lush.

The Poole-based firm, which has a history of hard-hitting campaigns focusing on human rights, animal protection and environmental preservation, has joined a host of other voices just as the UK's grouse shooting season begins.

Monday marks the "Glorious Twelfth", as it is known by game hunting enthusiasts.

The season runs for 16 weeks to December, drawing visitors from Europe and North America.

Environmental and animal welfare campaigners say driven grouse shooting, where the birds are driven towards the hunters by beaters, is cruel and want to see it banned.

They say predators such as foxes and stoats are killed to keep grouse numbers up, and have expressed concern over the disappearance of a number of birds of prey over grouse moors in recent months.

Moorland groups meanwhile cite a positive social and economic impact of shooting tours, and say managed grouse moors support many other wildlife including mountain hares.

A statement issued by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and the Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) said: "Rural communities face a multitude of challenges and the impact of turning the screw on grouse moors should not be underestimated.

"As part of a mosaic of sustainable land uses supporting fragile rural economies, we believe there is a bright future for grouse moor management in Scotland and are committed to working with others to deliver these benefits for rural communities, the natural environment and Scotland as a whole."

The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group said grouse shooting brings around £32 million to the Scottish economy and supports approximately 2,640 jobs.

But the Scottish Greens say research shows almost any other use of the land would be more economically active and provide more jobs.

Labour is also calling for a review of grouse shooting amid warnings it is causes substantial environmental damage to important natural habitats.

They said the process of draining the land in preparation for the shooting season destroyed "huge swathes" of plant life while also killing large numbers of animals.

At the same time, the party said that species such hen harriers - which feed on grouse chicks - and mountain hares were often illegally culled.

But despite such damage, Labour said that the 10 largest English grouse moors received a total of £3 million in annual farm subsidies.

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: "The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties.

"For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it's our environment and our people who pay the price.

"There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice."

Simon Constantine, head of ethical buying at Lush said they were including this issue in their War on Wildlife collection.

In a feature on their site, he wrote: "With 85 per cent of people still opposed to fox hunting, for example, we (Lush) feel it’s vital that the general public know the extent to which the natural world is being eroded around us. This is not a move of further division in divided times, rather the opportunity to connect all of us back to our land in a meaningful way."