Anti-bloodsport campaigners have urged Bradford Council leader Kris Hopkins to reverse a decision to allow controversial grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.
The League Against Cruel Sports has criticised grouse shooting on the iconic moor as “morally unjustifiable and offensive to many people” and has called for the Council to review its decision to grant a ten-year hunting lease.
Bingley Moor Partnership, which already manages shoots on the moors at Bingley and Burley, has won the contract to operate commercial grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.
Barry Hugill, a spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports, urged people to back its campaign to force a change of heart.
He said: “We don’t believe there is public support for this and we think people should express their disquiet.
“Ilkley Moor should be a public place for the use of everyone, not a play space for people who have thousands of pounds to spend on shooting live birds for fun.”
The group’s open letter to Coun Hopkins reads: “Even if warning signs are put in place, popular areas of the moor will effectively be out of bounds to the thousands of people who currently enjoy the moor, to meet the needs of a small group of people who want to shoot live birds.”
Mr Hugill said predators such as foxes, stoats, weasels, owls and raptors are “legitimate parts of the natural eco-system of the moor” and there is no reason why management practices such as heather burning, cannot be employed without the need for the grouse to be shot.
Edward Bromet, a leading member of the Bingley Moor Partnership and chairman of the Moorland Associa-tion, says a gamekeeper will work on the moor to ensure the eco-system is protected and the birds looked after.
“A requirement of the lease is we have a fully dedicated gamekeeper on Ilkley Moor,” said Mr Bromet, who said habitats must improve before shooting begins in around two years.
“That gamekeeper will be carrying out all sorts of functions. Part of that is pest and predator management to improve the stocks of all ground nesting birds. There’s certainly not going to be profits – if anything, we will be losing money.”
Another anti-hunting group, identifying itself as West Yorkshire Hunt Saboteurs, has condemned shooting.
Spokesman Luke Steele said: “The grouse shooting industry is cruel, unnecessary and only carried out for entertainment. Birds are scared out of the undergrowth then shot out of the sky. Many are still alive when they hit the floor.
“And who would want to go to a shoot that will be stopped by anti-bloodsports activists?”
Councillor Hopkins did not wish to comment.