Outspoken wildlife presenter and naturalist Chris Packham has urged Bradford Council to end grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor in a statement addressing Leader Susan Hinchcliffe.

Outspoken wildlife presenter and naturalist Chris Packham has branded Bradford Council’s allowance of grouse shooting on Yorkshire’s iconic beauty spot Ilkley Moor as “moorland vandalism”. The comments were made in a statement urging Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe to not renew permission for the blood sport to take place on public land, only days ahead of the last grouse shooting season permitted under the present licence.

Over half of protected breeding bird species have declined or become locally extinct on Ilkley Moor on Bradford Council’s watch, government figures collated by the RSPB Northern England office and released by Wild Moors last month show. The wildlife crash, which has negatively impacted on the moor’s population of specialist species, including Merlin, Dunlin and Short Eared Owl, could result in the loss of the site’s conservation designations if declines continue.

In a statement addressing Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe, Chris Packham comments: “Driven grouse moor management is ecologically disastrous. Drained, burned, poisoned and persecuted – it simply needs ending. 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?”

Luke Steele, Director of Wild Moors, 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.”

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.

Calls for Bradford Council to follow these successful precedents have received significant support, including from John Grogan MP (Keighley & 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.

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