Yorkshire Water is facing mounting pressure to pull the plug on grouse shooting following more than 80 campaigners, including Emmerdale actor Nick Mikes, protesting in Bradford city centre today (photos here).
The demonstration was jointly organised by campaign groups Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports, just days before the Glorious Twelfth, the traditional start of the grouse shooting season, on Monday.
Yorkshire Water leases 11 sections of moorland across the county out for grouse shooting, including nearby Haworth, Stanbury and Keighley moors. The practice is causing widespread damage to wildlife and the environment on the utility company’s land.
Luke Steele, Director of Wild Moors, said:
“Yorkshire Water has committed to reviewing grouse shooting on its moors in Calderdale, but that’s not enough to tackle the widespread damage to wildlife and the environment on each of its eleven grouse shooting leases across the county.
“There is only one way to manage moorland for grouse shooting and that’s through burning away and damaging precious habitat, at the cost of our region’s wildlife and environment.
“If Yorkshire Water wants to be recognised as taking its environmental responsibilities seriously then ending its grouse shooting leases is the only course of action which will suffice.”
Wild animals, including foxes, stoats, weasels and hare, are being killed by traps, snares and guns on Yorkshire Water’s moors to ensure large numbers of game birds are available for shooting. Hundreds of bone-breaking traps have been found across the company’s moors, many of which are popular with walkers.
Gamekeepers operating on Yorkshire Water land have also burnt large sections of heather moorland to engineer prime breeding habitat for red grouse. Important peatland habitat has been damaged by the burning, driving out native wildlife and damaging blanket bog.
Breeding bird surveys have shown that red and amber-listed species, including hen harrier, merlin, short-eared owl and dunlin, have drastically declined and even become locally extinct on the utility company’s leased moors across the region.
Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:
“By holding this rally in Bradford we’ve shown the company how passionately its customers want it to stop issuing grouse shooting licences on its land.
“Yorkshire Water will, we know, listen carefully to what their customers are saying, and must now act positively to protect the region’s rich natural heritage by taking the positive step of preventing grouse from being shot for ‘sport’ on its moors.”
More than 135,000 people signed a petition to Yorkshire Water CEO Richard Flint urging the company to clean up its act by ending grouse shooting.
Yorkshire Water has responded by announcing a review into the future of grouse shooting on moorland in nearby Calderdale, which Wild Moors and the League have welcomed as a step in the right direction, but say it’s not enough.
The wildlife protection organisations have vowed to continue their campaign until Yorkshire Water commits to ending its grouse shooting leases.
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Notes for editors:
- An advertising van urging Yorkshire Water to pull the plug on grouse shooting is also touring the district today, starting off at Yorkshire Water’s HQ on Halifax Road, Bradford, before stopping off at Haworth Moor, Haworth Village, Stanbury Moor, Keighley Moor and finishing in Keighley Town Centre.
- Campaigners will hand in thousands of postcards signed by Yorkshire Water customers to the company’s head office on Halifax Road, Bradford, on Monday, 12 August.