From Ilkley Gazette, 29th September 2017
Written by Claire Lomax
WILDLIFE presenter and naturalist Chris Packham has urged Bradford councillors to “do the right thing” and end grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor ahead of a key decision. The ten-year contract which allows shooting on the public moor comes to an ends in April next year when Bradford Council will have to make a decision whether to renew the contract or not.
In a letter to Bradford councillors, Chris Packham says: “This world is running out of wildlife - fast, and the faster that loss the more vociferous the demand to conserve what is left will become. So do you want to act now to lead the way forward or allow history to show that you failed to do the right thing when your venerable office allowed you that opportunity?
He concludes: “It’s a no brainer. It’s time to stop grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.”
Bradford Council is the last local authority in the UK to allow grouse shooting to take place on public moorland. Others, including the Peak District National Park Authority and Sheffield Council, already prohibit the practice on their upland estates, having previously allowed it, and now maintain the land using other methods.
Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM), which is lobbying Bradford Council to bring an end to grouse shooting, staged a protest ramble on the moor on August 12. During their protests this year they noted a drop in wildlife on the moor which they say is a result of intensive grouse moor management.
Luke Steele, spokesperson for BBIM, said: “With over half of specialist breeding birds suffering decline or local extinction on Ilkley Moor on Bradford Council’s watch, it is clear that licensing of grouse shooting by the local authority has been a conservation calamity. We urge Susan Hinchcliffe to follow every other moorland owning-council in the country by committing to ending grouse shooting on public land.”
Calls for Bradford Council to follow other local authorities in banning grouse shooting have received support from politicians, including John Grogan MP (Keighley & Ilkley), Alex Sobel MP (Leeds North West), Judith Cummins MP (Bradford South), Ilkley Parish Councillor Henri Murison (Ilkley South) and a cross-party representation of district councillors. During a recent consultation on the future management of Ilkley Moor, the largest number of submissions received by the local authority on any single topic urged an end to grouse shooting.
A spokesman for Bradford Council said: "Grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor is restricted to just eight weekdays during the grouse shooting season. The current contract to allow shooting on the moor will come to an end in April next year.
“All representations will be taken into account before any decision is made on whether to renew the contract or not.”