Burnt, drained and persecuted: Yorkshire Water grouse moors exposed

Yorkshire, UK – Widespread environmental damage has been inflicted on internationally-important moorland leased by Yorkshire Water for grouse shooting, with campaigners warning this is set to increase with the burning season now getting underway. Heather moorland is being set on fire to control habitat to increase game bird populations for the guns. 

Large sections of threatened peatland habitat - including Sites of Special Scientific Interest - have already been damaged during previous burning seasons, an investigation into five randomly-chosen Yorkshire Water moors released today by Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors (a selection of photos is available here). In some cases burning has been conducted unlawfully across watercourses and gullies, polluting and eroding catchments feeding water into Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs and harming habitat necessary for nesting birds of prey. Drainage and grouse shooting butts have also been dug into rare blanket bog and roadways carved into the hillside to convey shooting parties, leaving sensitive habitat degraded and exposed to the elements.

On one moor in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, over 100 ‘bone-crushing’ traps were discovered: set to eradicate native stoats and weasels to ‘preserve’ red grouse for shooting parties. On another at Stanbury the remains of wildlife animals were left rotting in traps. 

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, says:

“Modern business means being environmentally and socially responsible. Yet Yorkshire Water, which brands itself as being an industry-leader in environmental protection, is allowing internationally-important habitat to be burnt, drained and built on to further grouse shooting interests at the expense of wildlife, habitat and local communities, which suffer increased flood risk as a result.

“If Yorkshire Water wants to be recognised as taking its environmental responsibilities seriously, then ending its grouse shooting leases is the only course of action that will suffice. By removing the negative impact the practice has on wildlife and habitat, Yorkshire Water will truly become the environmental champion it espouses to be.”

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, says:

“Yorkshire Water must choose between enhancing wildlife and the environment or allowing it to be damaged by grouse shooting. The reality is that conservation and grouse shooting are inherently conflicting, with native wild animals killed and sensitive habitat burnt to provide large numbers of game birds for the guns. These practices also harm financial returns, with Yorkshire Water and its customers left to pick up the hefty bill for cleaning up polluted catchment water.

“We strongly urge Yorkshire Water to do the right thing by ending its grouse shooting leases. Customers and investors would expect nothing less from a company which purports to be a leader in wildlife and environmental protection.”

Environmental research commissioned by Yorkshire Water clearly spells out the considerable negative impact management of moorland for grouse shooting has on the environment, wildlife and local communities. This includes outlining how burning and draining the uplands damages rare peatland habitat - leaving it unable to sustain vulnerable breeding birds, drastically increases carbon emissions, contributes to flooding and pollutes catchment water.

Over 16,000 people have now contacted Yorkshire Water demanding the company stops leasing moorland for grouse shooting.

- ENDS -

Notes for editors:

  • Campaigners undertook investigations on Keighley, Stanbury and Haworth Moors (South Pennine Moors SSSI and SPA), Scar House (North Pennine Moors SPA and East Nidderdale Moors SSSI) and Hanging Moor (North Pennine Moors SPA) as part of a joint-campaign between League Against Cruel Sports and Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors urging Yorkshire Water to drop grouse shooting from its land.
  • Print quality photographs are available for republication here: Scar House North (Nidderdale), Keighley Moor (West Yorkshire), Stanbury Moor (West Yorkshire), Haworth Moor (West Yorkshire), Hanging Moor (Nidderdale).
  • For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email pressoffice@league.org.uk
  • The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

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