The future of grouse shooting on Haworth Moor has been brought into fresh doubt following a gamekeeper being interviewed for animal cruelty.
A gamekeeper for the popular beauty spot has been interviewed by the RSPCA on suspicion of not complying with the Spring Traps Approval (England) Order 2018. This follows him tending to two animal traps on moorland leased from Yorkshire Water, which did not protect non-target wildlife from becoming caught, injured or killed.
The jaw-like contraptions, which posed a risk to wildlife and pets, were found by investigators from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors (BBYM), set over two days in May, within meters of a popular footpath near Harbour Lodge (photos here and video here).
A young rabbit was discovered killed by one of the deadly traps, which was clamped around its abdomen. The gamekeeper was filmed by BBYM’s investigators tending to the traps, which prompted the wildlife protection organisation to hand over its evidence to the West Yorkshire Police and the RSPCA, who then jointly-searched the moor and seized the traps
Yorkshire Water has confirmed that if a prosecution is secured then it will terminate grouse shooting rights on the world-famous moor, which inspired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, said:
“It is unacceptable that wildlife has suffered and people’s pets put at risk by grouse shooting activities conducted on Haworth Moor on Yorkshire Water’s watch. What’s more, this follows months of warnings given to Yorkshire Water by ourselves about the negative impact of grouse shooting on the land.
“Grouse shooting is a stain on Haworth’s world-famous landscape, in which wildlife is part and parcel of what makes the area such an amazing place to be.
“Yorkshire Water must do the right thing by terminating its grouse shooting agreement on Haworth Moor, and commit to not renewing its grouse shooting permits elsewhere.”
This is not the first time Yorkshire Water has been brought into disrepute over grouse shooting on Haworth Moor.
Freshly-uncovered documents obtained by BBYM from the government’s environmental watchdog, Natural England, show that the grouse shoot on Haworth Moor recently withdrew from a conservation agreement intended to protect wildlife and sensitive habitat on the moor.
The withdrawal followed Natural England revoking previous permissions for the grouse shoot to burn sensitive peatland habitat, including rare blanket bog, to boost game bird numbers for shooting.
The negative environmental impacts of grouse moor management are also driving a decline in threatened breeding birds on Haworth Moor.
Conservation surveys released by Natural England show that red-listed ring ouzel have become locally extinct, and populations of red-listed twite and whinchat have halved.
Other breeding bird species which form part of a healthy upland habitat, including hen harrier, short-eared owl, dunlin and raven, are completely absent.
Luke Steele added:
“There is only one way to manage moorland for grouse shooting and that is through eradicating native wildlife and burning away precious peatland to boost game bird numbers for the guns.
“This has had considerable negative impacts on wildlife and the environment on Haworth Moor, as can be seen through the decline and local extinction of threatened breeding birds.”
The grouse shooting season opens in less than two weeks on Monday, 12 August.
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