AN animal welfare group is petitioning Bradford Council to ban grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor after a rush of support to condemn the practice.
West Yorkshire Animals in Needs, which is chaired by Ilkley resident, Dr Oliver Townsend, plans to present a petition calling for a total ban on grouse shooting on the regional landmark to city chiefs on July 8.
He says he had already had messages of support from many people concerned at the reintroduction of shooting on the landmark and popular visitor attraction.
Readers against grouse shooting have also written letters to the Gazette and posted on our website at (www.ilkleygazette.co.uk).
There has been no shooting on the moor since the council suspended its grouse shooting lease over ten years ago. Shooting has never been banned on the moor, however.
As well as being part of long-term strategies for moorland management, a lease was issued for grouse shooting in recent years. This was later called off, however, because the grouse population was hit by an outbreak of a parasitic worm.
Grouse shooting already takes place on other parts of the wider Rombalds Moor.
The row over shooting on the moor flared last week, after Bradford Council invited companies to tender for the right to hold grouse shoots on the moor for ten years. It is envisaged that the deal could be sealed by the summer.
However, Dr Townsend, who last week condemned grouse shooting as 'barbaric', hopes to bring a halt to the practice before the first shot is fired. He is organising a petition calling for the council to ban grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor, and plans to put this before Dr Townsend said: "The support we have is phenomenal and it is becoming stronger the more people hear about it and for all different kinds of reasons."
A veteran of successful campaigning on animal welfare issues, Dr Townsend recently persuaded Bradford Council to ban goldfish being given away as prizes at sideshows and fairgrounds on council land.
At least one Bradford councillor has already pledged to sign the group's petition.
It is believed that allowing grouse shooting on the moor could plough a figure of around £10,000 into the management and upkeep of the fire-damage landscape.
Bradford Council countryside officers and council environment chief, ward councillor Anne Hawkesworth, however, maintained that grouse shooting and the associated practices, such as heather burning, wouldhelp with the management of the moor.
The council has previously allowed birds to be driven from the moor to shooting areas when the grouse population has been too high. This did not successfully control the population, said Coun Hawkesworth, as many of the birds simply flew back.
- Have you voted in our online poll? See Editor's Choice.