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Ilkley Moor gamekeeper tells of 20 traps to keep vermin down
The head gamekeeper of Ilkley Moor was quizzed about trapping vermin and the management of public access during grouse shoots at the Friends of Ilkley Moor’s annual meeting.
Simon Nelson was interviewed about his work on the moor by Friends chairman John Stidworthy.
He was asked how many traps for vermin were set on Ilkley Moor and spoke on the management of grouse and how public access is managed during shoots.
The Friends group has raised concerns with Bradford Council in the past about stand-offs between dog walkers and gamekeepers from Bingley Moor Partnership, which holds the lease for grouse shoots on the publicly owned moorland.
The Partnership also operates shoots on the adjacent moorland it owns, part of the wider Rombalds Moor complex.
Mr Nelson, whose earlier career saw him work as a heather on the Bolton Abbey estate, told how the Trust works to manage the environment to make it attractive to ground-nesting birds – mainly through burning heather under Natural England guidelines and trapping predators to prevent the loss of nesting birds and eggs.
In answer to a question from former Friends chairman Owen Wells, Mr Nelson said there were 20 traps on Ilkley Moor itself, but checks were not made every day. He said the traps were in tunnels too small for animals larger than a weasel.
Poisoning is no longer used for vermin control. All grouse are raised naturally on the moor, he told the meeting, and about 200 are shot annually. Care is taken that there is a good breeding stock remaining at the end of the season.
Asked how public access is managed during shoots, Mr Nelson said it was not possible to know beforehand exactly where a shoot would be held as it depended on the location of the grouse.
Dates were not published to avoid the risk of vandalism and disruption by anti-blood sport campaigners.
He said any walkers were warned if they approached the shoot and if necessary the shoot was paused and the walkers were escorted through the area.
The meeting re-elected all officers and committee members.
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