BRITAIN’S largest shooting and conservation organisation has praised Bradford City Council for choosing sense over extremism by allowing grouse shooting to continue on Ilkley Moor.
The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has agreed a draft management plan for the moor which will be put out to public consultation this summer.
Despite a campaign by anti-shooting extremists, the current licence which allows eight days of grouse shooting on the publicly-owned land will continue to run until 2018.
The council’s draft report acknowledges the positive effect of a gamekeepers on the moor while also recognising the positive benefits of heather and bracken management associated with grouse shooting.
Duncan Thomas, BASC’s northern director, said: “The council are to be applauded for allowing grouse shooting to continue. It is a victory for common sense over hysteria, fact over fiction.
“It’s great news for conservation; grouse moors support a vast range of wildlife and this is absolutely down to the efforts of gamekeepers and farmers. Curlews and the full range of upland waders thrive on managed moor.
“If the heather-clad uplands are not effectively managed, the heather becomes long and rank, creating a sterile wilderness that, in turn, becomes a dangerous wildfire risk. Sadly, this happened on Ilkley Moor before it was managed for shooting.
“We have seen recently in other areas the devastation caused by wildfire. The council are taking an evidence-based decision and the evidence is clear; moors managed for grouse reduce this risk significantly.”
Ian Grindy, a BASC council member, said: “We have previously said that campaigning to close down grouse moor management on Ilkley Moor is a crime against conservation. The scientific evidence shows that the management of sensitive moorlands for grouse shooting has clear economic, social and environmental benefits.
“Under good management for grouse, other threatened birds thrive and biodiversity improves – why would you want to destroy such a benefit to the environment? In the UK grouse shooting supports the equivalent of over 2,500 jobs and has an annual value of around £100 million. It strengthens local communities.”