Yorkshire Water is set to decide the future of a controversial game bird shooting arrangement on its land at Thornton Moor.
The review will consider whether to continue allowing the shooting of grouse and partridge for sport on the popular moorland next to Ogden Water Nature Reserve, near Halifax, when the lease ends later this year.
It forms part of a major shift announced by the utility company in 2019 when Yorkshire Water confirmed that it will review the shooting leases on all areas of moorland it owns when they come up for renewal.
The move has been welcomed by Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports, which are lobbying Yorkshire Water to stop allowing game bird shooting on its moors and instead restore them for nature, carbon capture and the enjoyment of local people.
Commenting on the decision to review the shooting lease Luke Steele, Executive Director of Wild Moors, said: “Yorkshire Water has a clear opportunity to pull the plug on game bird shooting on Thornton Moor and instead restore this locally treasured land for nature, the climate and people. It must take it.”
Scientists have concluded that game bird shooting can result in considerable harm being caused to wildlife and fragile moorland ecosystems.
On Thornton Moor carbon-rich peatlands have been left exposed to erosion by the protective layer of heather being slashed away to provide younger, more nutritious shoots for grouse to eat. Peatlands are the UK’s biggest natural terrestrial carbon store, but also play an important role in improving water quality and helping to tackle flooding.
The release of large numbers of non-native, farmed partridges to supplement the grouse population can also result in biodiversity loss when wild birds are driven out by competition and vulnerable lizards, snakes and butterflies are predated.
What’s more, natural predators, including foxes, stoats and weasels, are trapped and shot to preserve large numbers of game birds for sports shooting.
Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, added: “Game bird shooting is unpopular, bad for the environment and most importantly: it’s cruel. The League Against Cruel Sports welcomes this long awaited review from Yorkshire Water, and hopes it makes the right decision to end its shooting leases.”
Grouse shooting has already come to an end on nearby Ilkley Moor, where Bradford Council has been widely praised for its conservation efforts to restore peatlands and deliver improvements for wildlife.
Notes for editors
Print-quality photographs and broadcast-quality videos of partridge release pens, stoat traps and heather cutting on deep peat on Yorkshire Water’s land at Thornton Moor are available here, with full permission granted for republication.
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Moors: firstname.lastname@example.org or League Against Cruel Sports Press Office: email@example.com and 01483 524250
Wild Moors campaigns to unlock an area of uplands the size of Greater London from grouse shooting for nature restoration by 2030. By working with communities, companies and governments to solve challenges facing the upland environment Wild Moors acts as a catalyst for creating effective and lasting change.
The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain’s leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1095234) and Scotland (no. SC045533).