The title of this blog may sound like the next children’s bestselling book. However, the events on Baildon Moor in West York may well be stranger than fiction.
A short film appeared on social media yesterday, reportedly showing a tractor mowing heather on Baildon Moor, which is managed by Bradford City Council. This created a flurry of criticism and outrage; how could somebody mow over a moorland during the ground nesting bird season? The moor is home to lapwing, snipe, red grouse, meadow pipits, and skylarks along with curlew, a bird so iconic and rare it recently had its own ‘World Curlew Day’.
Most people know it is illegal to disturb or damage the nest site of a wild bird (unless under specific exceptions). So numerous people and organisations (including BASC) began to contact Bradford City Council for an explanation.
Bradford City Council does have a habit of making headlines regarding the management of their moorlands.
In 2018 they banned grouse shooting from the neighbouring Ilkley Moor after a high-profile campaign by anti-shooting extremists. This was in spite of the fact that the Council’s very own management plan described the many benefits of the grouse shoot. This included free habitat management and a lease revenue providing over £11,000 a year, which the Council spent on conservation projects.
Sadly on 20 April 2019, Ilkley moor was set ablaze via a devastating arson attack damaging over 50 acres of the moor. Yet the potential for such wildfire incidents was outlined by the Council and a solution given:
“In addition to the approved management works which the keepers may undertake, their presence on the moor, day and night, provides an additional level of protection to the moor.