OUTSPOKEN wildlife presenter Chris Packham is calling for an end to grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor - branding it "moorland vandalism".

The TV presenter and naturalist is urging Bradford Council to refuse permission for the blood sport on public land. His comments were made in a statement to Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe.

Over half of protected breeding bird species have declined or become locally extinct on Ilkley Moor, according to figures collated by the RSPB Northern England office and released by Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor. Campaigners says the decline, 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.

In his statement Chris Packham says: "Driven grouse moor management is ecologically disastrous. Drained, burned, poisoned and persecuted - it simply needs ending. It is clear that this unpopular and damaging practice is widely opposed by your constituents, so why not honour your voters’ wishes and jump the gun on those who are dragging their feet towards the inevitable end of this moorland vandalism?”

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for BBIM, said: "With over half of specialist breeding birds suffering decline or local extinction on Ilkley Moor on Bradford Council’s watch, it is clear that licensing of grouse shooting by the local authority has been a conservation calamity. We urge Susan Hinchcliffe to follow every other moorland owning-council in the country by committing to ending grouse shooting on public land."

BBIM says Bradford Council is the last local authority in the UK to allow grouse shooting to take place on public moorland.

Earlier this month a Council spokesman said: "Grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor is restricted to just eight weekdays during the grouse shooting season. The current contract to allow shooting on the moor will come to an end next year, 2018. All representations will be taken into account before any decision is made on whether to renew the contract or not."