A moorland conservation group has issued a code of practice for dog walkers and guidelines for those in charge of grouse shoots on Ilkley Moor in a bid to end conflict between the two camps.

Senior figures from supporters’ group Friends of Ilkley Moor held talks with Bingley Moor Partnership and Moorland Association chairman, Edward Bromet, after complaints about stand-offs between dog walkers and a gamekeeper on the Bradford Council-owned moor.

Dog walkers should take care to avoid their pets disturbing ground-nesting birds and worrying sheep, and should dispose of dog dirt, say the Friends.

Parts of the wider Rombalds Moor are legally out of bounds to dogs in bird nesting season, the Friends have stressed, while walkers are required to keep their dogs on a lead on Ilkley Moor itself between May 1 and July 31.

But they are also calling on grouse shoot organisers to make sure they display warning signs if shooting is in progress, make sure shooters know the public always has priority on the landmark Moor, and say a lone gamekeeper should not normally openly carry a gun on the moor.

The Friends have offered to help in training courses for keepers on the implications of running a shoot on public land, and provide observers to ensure walkers are approached in a ‘calm and courteous manner’ by gamekeepers around shoots.

The group added a warning that any shoot activities ‘inimicable to the public enjoyment of the moor’, such as aggressive behaviour to walkers, should be grounds for the termination of Bradford Council’s shooting rights lease.

In their draft guidelines for shooting on the Moor, the Friends are also calling for the terms of the shooting lease to be published.

The Bingley Moor Partnership was awarded a ten-year deal by Bradford Council in 2008 to run commercial grouse shoots on the moor.

The deal also saw Bradford Council gain the services of a Bingley Moor gamekeeper for free, to help in their efforts to nurture the moor, damaged in a week-long blaze in 2006.

In their meeting with Mr Bromet, the Friends stressed their neutrality on the subject of shooting, but said this would be difficult to maintain if there were further confrontations between the gamekeepers and walkers. The Friends say Mr Bromet had said that his keeper had been advised of the sensitivities of running a shoot on a public-owned moorland.

Friends’ chairman Owen Wells said “Members of the public are always likely to be frightened when meeting anyone on the moor with a gun. The public has priority and must be approached in a calm and courteous manner. They also have the right to know when and where shooting is taking place so that they may avoid those areas, if they wish to do so. Notices should be displayed at entry points to the moor on the days when shooting is taking place.”

Some shooting is already thought to have taken place on Ilkley Moor.

The Friends have published a lengthy list of recommendations surrounding shooting on the moor via their website. They have also published a list of comprehensive guidelines for dog walkers.

The group said: “All owners like seeing their dog run freely on the moor, but research shows that where dogs are running free, ground nesting birds will not nest within 250m of a path. So anyone who wishes to hear a skylark sing, or see a little owl, should keep their dog on the lead on the upper slopes of the moor between March 1 and July 31.”

In their guide, the Friends warned that a dog chasing sheep can be seen as sheep worrying, and farmers are within their right to shoot the dog. They advise owners to keep dogs under close control.

In an attempt to crack down on dog fouling, they advise dog walkers to pick up and take away dog mess – but warned that dumping bags of dog dirt on the moor is an even worse problem than failing to clean up the dirt in the first place.

Full details on dog walking restrictions and good practice can be found on the Friends’ website at ilkleymoor.org.

Edward Bromet told the Gazette that everyone needs to work together to solve issues around dog walking on the moor. He said the Friends' proposals for shooting management, which he learned about just last week, were 'interesting' and would be considered fully in future.