Moorland managed by Bradford Council has been mown in the middle of the bird nesting season, a Councillor has confirmed. The incident was filmed on Baildon Moor, just 5 miles north of Bradford. Introducing mowers to a moor at a time when many red-listed birds could be nesting is a travesty. Farmers will know what machines like this can do in silage fields, where species as big as a brown hare can be lost forever in its blades.
As ever, the debate between cutting and burning heather isn’t as black and white as detractors of moorland burning might want us to think. Without the foresight of someone filming this, we would never have known it had happened and Bradford Council would never have been alerted to this harmful error. If someone were to burn heather out of season, any of the thousands of people living within walking distance would know and people would act to stop it.
Anyone who understands the wildlife of our moors will be horrified by this, as shown by the outrage the video prompted on social media. We can’t know what damage this might have caused, but there have been reports of many species, from skylarks to golden plover, nesting on the moor.
Sonya Wiggins of Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group is extremely concerned, calling it “truly heart-breaking for our ground-nesting red-listed birds at this time of year” and questions how this could happen on land managed by Bradford Council.
It seems a cruel irony that, when the same council ended grouse shooting on the neighbouring Ilkley Moor, Chris Luffingham of the League Against Cruel Sports claimed he was “pleased to see that Bradford Council accepts the unnecessary suffering and collateral damage to wildlife and the environment that is caused by commercial shooting.” For the curlew on Baildon Moor, it might not be death by a thousand cuts, but just the one.
Bradford Council have asked us to explain that they are now investigating this incident. We are happy to do so.
The GWCT will continue to update this blog as and when we receive any further information.