Leeds & West Yorkshire

Chris Packham calls to end Ilkley Moor grouse shooting

Chris Packham
Image caption Wildlife presenter Chris Packham has said grouse shooting is an "unpopular and damaging practice"

Wildlife presenter Chris Packham is campaigning for an end to grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor, calling it "moorland vandalism".

He made his comments in a statement to moor owners Bradford Council ahead of the grouse shooting season next week.

The council said it permits shooting for just eight days each year, under a contract to be reviewed in 2018.

Ilkley Moor is the last publicly owned place in the UK to allow grouse shooting during the season.

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Mr Packham addressed Labour council leader Susan Hinchcliffe in a letter sent by the group Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM).

He said the practice was "ecologically disastrous".

"It is clear that this unpopular and damaging practice is widely opposed by your constituents so why not honour your voters' wishes and jump the gun on those who are dragging their feet towards the inevitable end of this moorland vandalism," he wrote.

A council spokesperson said when the current contract ends all representations would be considered before a decision to renew or not was made.

Image caption Moor owners Bradford Council say shooting is only allowed for eight days each year

Those opposed to grouse shooting argue it is directly contributing to a rapid fall in the number of hen harriers.

The birds prey on red grouse chicks as part of their diet, and conservationists claim gamekeepers kill hen harriers to preserve grouse stocks.

There are just four breeding pairs left in England.

Countryside groups and the government say grouse shooting is a legitimate activity which brings significant benefits to the rural economy.

Gareth Dockerty from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said: "The grouse shooting benefits the habitats, protects the site from fire and anti-social behaviour and is undertaken in a safe manner."

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