THE CHAIRMAN of Bingley Moor Partnership has defended the way predators and pests are killed and buried after an animal welfare charity slammed the methods.

The League Against Cruel Sports took photographs of dead foxes on Bingley Moor Estate, which lies above East Morton.

The charity claimed the foxes had been caught in illegal self-locking snares before they were buried in a mass grave known as a midden.

Campaigners claim 'jaw-like’ fenn traps, which cause the animals to suffer broken bones and die from their injuries, were also set by the dozens to purge native stoats and weasels.

However, Edward Bromet, of Bingley Moor Partnership, which runs Bingley Moor Estate, said the practices are not illegal and the animals are being killed to protect endangered birds

He said: “A Midden is not an attractive site because where foxes are killed is largely where they are buried.

“I’m sorry somebody has had a shock by seeing one.

“Foxes are a predator and we get a lot of foxes in the lower dales coming out of the town centres and they do need to be controlled.

“It’s absolutely legal to set snares and traps for stoats and weasels and they are similar to foxes in that they are a predator and they will kill vulnerable birds and attack nests.

“Essentially what we are doing is maintaining biodiversity on moorland and Bingley is particularly under pressure being so close to town centres.”

Mr Bromet said the work is part of the Moor’s pest and predator management and protects endangered species, including Curlew and Lapwing.

The animal protection charity said their investigation comes as gamekeepers on Northern England’s heather-clad moorlands begin killing off native wild animals which interfere with grouse shooting operations.

This massing killing is said to be performed to provide large number of game birds for when the guns arrive when the season begins in August and is expected to continue well into the summer.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "Grouse shooting estates purge native wildlife to increase red grouse populations for the guns. Thousands of animals - including foxes, stoats, weasels, corvids and often birds of prey - are killed by trap, snare and bullet for no other reason than they compete with game bird shooting interests.

“These animals are a cornerstone of Britain’s natural heritage.

"With 69 per cent of the British public agreeing shooting birds for sport should be illegal, it’s high time grouse shooting was consigned to the history books. Upland wildlife truly is taking a battering from gamekeepers and action must be taken.”

Mr Bromet said the Grouse shooting industry was “very important” for upland areas.

He said people came from all over the world to take part in the legal sport and it brought revenue to the local economy.

Controversy has surrounded grouse shooting in the Bradford district for a number of years because Ilkley Moor – above Riddlesden – was the last remaining council-owned moor on which Grouse shooting was allowed.

Protests took place on the Moor where Grouse shooting used to take place of eight days of the year, starting from August 12.

It was stopped in January of last year when an overwhelming majority of councillors voted to not renew the shooting rights when they run out in April 2018.