'Picnic protest' held against Ilkley Moor grouse shooting
Campaigners have staged a "picnic protest" against grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor near Bradford.
The protesters, carrying picnics and home-made banners, are calling for a ban on shooting on council-owned land.
Luke Steele, from Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM), claims the practice "degraded rare habitat and polluted the public land with toxic lead shot".
A spokesman for the group that runs the shoot said grouse shooting was an important part of moorland management.
Bradford Council said it restricted shooting on its land to just eight days a year.
BBIM claims the authority is the only one in the UK to allow shooting on its land and has called on the council to deliver a "new vision" for the moor that "promotes wildlife biodiversity, teaches younger generations the importance of conservation and benefits the local economy".
Bradford Council's Countryside Service manager, Danny Jackson, said the current contract allowing grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor was due to end in 2018.
"We are currently producing a management plan which covers the habitat, recreational and archaeological aspects of the Moor which will be available for public comment later this summer," he added.
Edward Bromet of Bingley Moor Partnership, which runs the shoot, said grouse shooting aided the upkeep of the moor.
"Ilkley was a very dilapidated moor when we were given the council license in 2008. There was a major fire here in 2006," he said.
"We put in every effort and investment to restore the moor and heather and birdlife, bringing in all kinds of birds, including lapwing and curlew, which used to be on Ilkley Moor.
"Now it's wonderful that everybody can come up and see them doing so well."
Mr Bromet added that the group's conservation of the moorland saved the council money.
"There needs to be some shooting of grouse every year, that's the economic driver behind the year-round conservation effort that has all these knock-on benefits," he said.
"We save the council the cost of running the moor themselves.
"It is much better that the private investment from grouse shooting goes on and experience is applied, so that the moors up and down the country can be maintained and conserved for everybody to enjoy them."