Animal rights activists have bragged about trashing grouse pens and electric fencing near Ilkley Moor ahead of the start to the shooting season next month.

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has a report on its website posted by an anonymous member of the Grouse Liberation Front admitting to causing the damage.

It reads: “A large grouse pen was identified and trashed; the water pipes and distributors were left split and smashed.

“The wire fencing from the entire enclosure was brought down. The electric fencing was cut and the system destroyed. Two set fen traps were discovered and placed permanently out of commission.

”Two smaller pens were found nearby and the netting roof and wire surrounds were left in tatters. Feeders in the area were also tampered with.”

The damage is believed to have been carried out earlier this month, ahead of the shooting season, which starts on August 12. However, The Bingley Moor Partnership, which won the rights for grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor, has said there will be no shooting for at least two years because of a shortage of grouse stocks.

Chairman Edward Bromet has said a gamekeeper will work on the moor to ensure the eco-system is protected and the birds looked after.

The actions of the activists have been branded “criminal” by the Moorland Association.

Spokesman Amanda Anderson said the vandals had been “off target” because the majority of the equipment “has nothing to do” with grouse shooting.

She said: “The police are involved. These people are criminals and they are not very clever criminals. They have destroyed legitimate work for the benefit of conservation.”

She said the pens which were damaged were probably for rearing birds other than grouse, such as partridges. The traps which were destroyed were for catching predators such as weasels, stoats and mink, which kill birds and eat their eggs, she said.

A petition by Ilkley-based West Yorkshire Animals in Need (WYAN) calling for a ban on grouse shooting on the moor, was referred to Bradford Council last week.

Although a ten-year contract to organise the shoots has been agreed between The Bingley Partnership and the Council, which owns and maintains the moor, protesters hope to halt shooting before it begins.

However, a full debate on the issue looks unlikely. The petition may simply be noted by the executive, as the contract has already been signed.

Green Party Councillors, Kevin Warnes and Martin Love, have also expressed concerns about shooting grouse, despite grouse numbers crashing in recent years.