The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association.
“There has been grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor since the guns that allowed it were invented.” So said Edward Bromet, chairman of the Bingley Moor Partnership (BMP). But there will be no more shooting.
The Labour run Bradford Council has banned it. They voted “with overwhelming majority" not to renew a ten-year shooting lease.
So now who is going to pay for moorland conservation in the area?
Mr Bromet said that the BMP, which has made substantial payments towards this, would have invested a further £800,000 had the lease been renewed for another ten years. Also, the moorland stood to benefit from another £1million in private investment through local partnerships.
Mr Bromet added, "They are turning away a great deal of private investment and this is all against a backdrop of the Council having to make budget cuts of £30million. No one can understand the logic apart from the fact that this is a Labour Council and they have accepted the views of the animal rights activists."
The BMP's efforts on the moor won the Gamekeepers’ National Conservation Award in 2015.
Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM) have been lobbying councillors since 2014 and they were bolstered by the backing of wildlife presenter Chris Packham.
Yesterday, Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, commented: “The taxpayers of Bradford need to ask their councillors why they will now be paying tens of thousands of pounds to undertake work currently paid for by private investment. They need to ask why the views of wealthy BBC presenters like Chris Packham and animal rights activists from across the country have been prioritised over local wildlife and local people."
Now here is a weird paradox: it is environmentalists who cause the most damage to the environment – for instance in their desecration of the English landscape by their enthusiasm for wind turbines born out of their addiction to the pagan fantasy of global warming. To this may be added the further paradox that anti-blood sports obsessives are the people who do most damage to animals and birds. For it is managed shooting, and the rural culture and livelihood to which it belongs, that does the most to ensure animal welfare. If we did not shoot and eat the shot game, there would be no grouse on the moorland – in the same way that if we didn’t eat lamb and beef, there would be no sheep and no cows in our fields.
The anti-blood sports pressure group just can’t – or rather won’t - get this fact into their heads.
They claim to be acting in the interests of “animal rights,” but it is they who are doing the most harm to animals. Of course they don’t care tuppence for animals. As Thomas Babington Macaulay said, “The Puritans didn’t condemn bear-baiting for the pain it caused the bear, but for the pleasure it gave the spectators.”
The mean-spirited ban on shooting on Ilkley Moor – as in a hundred other places – is just one more example of the politics of envy in practice. The urbanised types who prevail in the anti-blood sports pressure groups have a visceral hatred of country folk and country practices – because they have an ideological prejudice against the former and they don’t understand the latter.
Moreover, their arguments are irrational and incoherent. They claim to be acting in defence of “animal rights.” But “animal rights” is a nonsensical concept. Only creatures capable of making moral judgements can be said to have rights – for “rights” is a concept which belongs to the realm of moral philosophy. I have never come across a grouse reading a book on moral philosophy.
Similarly, “children’s rights” is another nonsensical phrase. Children are not deemed to be moral agents until they come to the age of discretion – traditionally acknowledged by Jews in the Bar Mitzva and by Christians at the rite of Confirmation.
The reality is that animals and children do not have rights, but adults have responsibilities to care for them. It is this responsibility which is being shirked by the anti-shooting bigots on Ilkley Moor.
All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.