by Adrian Blackmore

When we learnt that Yorkshire Water was being lobbied by animal rights activists not to renew the shooting lease on Thornton Moor, and heard the lies and unsubstantiated accusations that were being made by a small vocal minority, we knew that we could not sit back and do nothing. Complacency was not an option given what was at risk. Thanks to the power of social media, such lobbying by those against shooting, especially grouse shooting, is all too easy, especially when driven by campaigns such as that of Wild Moors, and its spokesman Luke Steele, an animal rights extremist who has in the past been convicted of a number of offences who in 2012 was sentenced to 18 months in prison for harassment. He has a history of intimidation and, through the power of social media, has turned the internet into a weapon for activists. Unfortunately, he has had some notable success.

It was essential that the lies and accusations being made by Wild Moors, and others, are effectively countered, because if shooting and its associated management practices on Thornton Moor ceased, the environmental, economic and social consequences would be considerable. That is why our e-lobby, asking people to contact Yorkshire Water, was so important. We wanted to ensure the company was not taken in by a campaign of misinformation and bias, and instead take note of the available science and evidence that fully supports the renewal of the shooting lease on Thornton Moor. In the two weeks that the e-lobby was open, more than 3,000 people used it to contact Yorkshire Water and stress how vital shooting is for conservation, and how it is an intrinsic part of the social fabric that connects moorland communities together, providing people with jobs, and a network of small businesses with custom. Yorkshire Water can be in no doubt as to the weight of public support behind our campaign. We have also been in dialogue with Yorkshire Water, sent them a copy of our comprehensive briefing note on grouse shooting and upland management, and likewise contacted all relevant MPs.

It is hoped that Yorkshire Water will take a robust stance in the face of the lobbying it is facing from Wild Moors, take heed of all the available science and evidence, and renew the shooting lease not just on Thornton Moor, but those of its other shooting tenants when they too come up for renewal.

To help us stand up against the extremists and support the sport of shooting, please consider donating to the Countryside Alliance today.

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