Fresh controversy for officials at Bradford Council as a poacher takes advantage of lack of council management on local moorland and shoots birds out of season.
The man from the West Yorkshire city, which is linked to a succession of moorland management mistakes, posted photographs on a private Facebook group today of grouse and a rabbit that he shot, with the caption: “this morning’s bag”.
The closed season for grouse shooting runs from 11 December to 11 August in Britain (1 December – 11 August in Northern Ireland).
He is also likely to be breaking lockdown rules that require you to stay at home and not engage in recreation apart from bicycling.
The poacher is thought to have used an airgun. Later in the comments, he promises to cook and eat the birds and rabbit ‘tonight’. Fieldsports Channel has passed his details to local police.
The post calls into question Bradford Council’s management of local moorland, which is likely to be where the poacher was shooting. The council ended a lease to grouseshooters on land it owns on Ilkley Moor in 2018. As a result, there are no gamekeepers on that ground. Since then, the council has been mired in controversy about its management of the moor.
April 2019: Bradford Council’s failure to burn firebreaks (which also regenerates the heather providing cover and food for rare groundnesting birds) leads to a wildfire that is thought to have killed more grouse in a few hours than years of grouseshooting – full story here
April 2020: Lack of gamekeeping oversight of nearby Baildon Moor means Bradford Council fails to stop heather cutting during the nesting season for groundnesting birds – full story here
May 2020: Lack of gamekeepers leads to poaching on local moorland
In a legal letter dated 26 May 2020, more than two weeks after we published this story, City of Bradford assistant solicitor Michael Bowness responds: ‘The claims in your article that a person, allegedly from Bradford, poached some gamebirds and rabbits (sic) on “local moorland” imply that this occurred on moorland in the Bradford District owned and managed by the council. The article also implies that the incident would not have occurred had there been keepers on the site. No evidence was offered that the moorland was either in Bradford or owned and managed by the council. The reference to ‘local moorland’ is ambiguous and may not refer to moorland in the Bradford District. If the moorland was in the Bradford District, the majority of moorlands are owned by other individuals and organisations. There is no evidence that this occurred on a Bradford Council owned moorland.
‘In addition, the council believes affording publicity to an individual who has broken the law is irresponsible. The proper course of action would have been to refer the matter to the police without comment.’
More on the Bradford legal letter story here