Wildlife crash on Ilkley Moor prompts fresh calls to ban grouse shooting

Ilkley, UK – Wildlife populations have crashed on treasured beauty spot Ilkley Moor, risking the site’s conservation status, freshly emerged figures show. Campaigners have written to Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe demanding a ban on grouse shooting.

Over half of protected breeding bird species have declined or become locally extinct on Yorkshire’s iconic beauty spot Ilkley Moor, freshly emerged figures obtained from the RSPB Northern England Office show. The wildlife crash, which has negatively impacted on the moor’s population of specialist species, including Merlin, Dunlin and Short Eared Owl, could result in the loss of the site’s conservation designations if declines continue, Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM) has warned.

Freshly emerged figures show:

  • There was just one breeding pair of red-listed Merlin on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990. The decline of 86 per cent on Ilkley Moor is disproportionately greater than the 54 per cent decline across the Special Protection Area.
  • There was just one breeding pair of amber-listed Dunlin on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990.
  • There was just two breeding pairs of amber-listed Redshank on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990.
  • There were no breeding red-listed Ring Ouzel on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to four breeding pairs in 1990.
  • There were no breeding red-listed Whinchats on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to four breeding pairs in 1990.
  • There were no breeding red-listed Twite on Ilkley Moor in 2014, compared to seven breeding pairs in 1990.
  • Other breeding bird species which form part of a healthy upland habitat, including hen harrier, short eared owl and raven, are completely absent from Ilkley Moor.

BBIM has written to Leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe noting that populations of breeding birds have tanked on Ilkley Moor as a result of grouse shooting and related habitat-damaging management, and called on the local authority to end the blood sport on public land. This latest controversy comes only weeks ahead of the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ of August, the traditional start of the grouse shooting season – the last to be held on Ilkley Moor under the present licence. Peak District National Park Authority, Sheffield, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and North Ayrshire Councils have ended grouse shooting on upland estates under their control, having previously permitted the practice. Bradford is now the last local authority in the UK to allow it.

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for BBIM, comments: “There is only one way to manage moorland for grouse shooting and that’s through burning away and damaging precious habitat, at the expense of our region’s wildlife. With over half of specialist breeding birds suffering decline or local extinction on Ilkley Moor, it is clear that Bradford Council’s licencing of grouse shooting has been a conservation calamity.

Steele continues, “It is high time Bradford Council reached the same conclusion as every other moorland-owning local authority: grouse shooting is incompatible with conservation and public interest, so has to go.”

– ENDS –

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