Writing to council leader Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Mr Packham described shoots at the beauty spot as “moorland vandalism”.
The start of the grouse shooting season next week will mark the final shoots permitted under the current ten-year lease between Bradford Council, the owners of the Moor, and the Bingley Moor Partnership (BMP). The Partnership, which owns 4,500 sq ft of moorland adjacent to Ilkley Moor, has paid the Council £10,000 a year since 2008 under the lease, to shoot on the moor for up to eight days each season.
Mr Packham’s comments are included in a letter by campaign group Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM). It says figures released by the RSPB last month show over half of protected breeding bird species have declined or become locally extinct on Ilkley Moor on Bradford Council’s watch. The group claims the “wildlife crash” has negatively impacted on the moor’s population of specialist species, including Merlin, Dunlin and Short Eared Owl, and could result in the loss of the site’s conservation designations if declines continue.
Mr Packham’s appeal to Bradford Council said: “Driven grouse moor management is ecologically disastrous. Drained, burned, poisoned and persecuted – it simply needs ending. It is clear that this unpopular and damaging practice is widely opposed by your constituents, so why not honour your voters’ wishes and jump the gun on those who are dragging their feet towards the inevitable end of this moorland vandalism?”
Luke Steele, spokesperson for BBIM, said: “It is clear that licensing of grouse shooting by the local authority has been a conservation calamity. We urge Susan Hinchcliffe to follow every other moorland owning-council in the country by committing to ending grouse shooting on public land.”
A spokesman for Bradford Council said: “Grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor is restricted to just eight weekdays during the grouse shooting season. The current contract to allow shooting on the moor will come to an in April next year. All representations will be taken into account before any decision is made on whether to renew the contract or not.”