A busman's bank holiday: campaigning for grouse

69% of people oppose the shooting of birds for sport. That’s a hell of a lot. But when you work in an office in Surrey, sometimes it’s easy to think of that as just a number. So when you meet the public and see these figures reflected in people’s friendly reactions, it’s a welcome reminder of why the work the League does is so vital. Which is just one reason why I took the team up to Yorkshire to work with volunteers from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors (BBYM) to do some good old-fashioned grass roots campaigning.

Happy campaigners in Whitby

Using the format of the traditional Yorkshire coast bank holiday jaunt (as opposed to the cruel tradition of driven grouse shooting) we visited the key coastal tourist towns of Whitby, Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough, hoping to catch the locals and the tourists.

But what were we asking them to do? It was quite simple: sign a postcard addressed to Richard Flint, CEO of Yorkshire Water, asking his company to stop leasing their moors for grouse shooting. Simple, straight to the point and straight into the post box.

Across the UK, 700,000 grouse are killed every year, and by licencing 13 moors for shooting, Yorkshire Water is contributing to the killing of wildlife and the environmental degradation that comes with it.

It was fantastic to see so many smiling faces, so many thumbs up, and so many of those being converted into signatures. The people of Yorkshire have had to put up with the shoots for so long, that as much as they wished them to go away, they felt it not to be possible. This seemed to make our presence doubly welcomed as not only were we speaking out for what they believe in, we were there, in their town, speaking with them about what they believed in.

Crowds of supporters in Scarborough

Unsurprisingly, we were not welcomed by all. We did have a very small number of encounters with game keepers and shooters. One game keeper, who to his credit, did try to engage us in debate on shooting, started to shout personal abuse any time we countered his argument that shooting is economically and ecologically viable (it’s not). I suppose it’s not as bad as being threatened to be thrown into Whitby harbour which happened at one point (not an exaggeration), but then, it just says a lot about those that like to kill animals for fun.

We had close to 700 postcards signed over the weekend, all being sent in the post to Yorkshire Water HQ. This in addition to the 1,000+ that have already been posted over the summer holiday. But the campaign is only just beginning. BBYM is not going away and neither are we. This weekend reminds me that the League Against Cruel Sports doesn’t just offer a voice for animals, but for people too.

Campaigns on the trains

I would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to those who gave up their time to help. Volunteers and supporters like you that make campaigns like this possible.

Yorkshire Water should not be licencing grouse shooting, their customers agree, and Yorkshire Water knows it.

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