Grouse shooting lease on wildlife crime grouse moor will not be renewed

The owner of Denton Moor, a company called NG Bailey, has announced it will not renew the grouse shooting lease to its current tenant following a spate of wildlife crime.

Denton Moor in the Nidderdale AONB in Yorkshire was where the RSPB filmed footage of several armed men, dressed as gamekeepers, shooting at a nesting Marsh harrier and removing eggs from the nest in May 2017 (see here). Despite good efforts from North Yorkshire Police, the armed men have not been identified.

[RPUK map showing the location of Denton Moor]

Last month gamekeeper Austin Hawke was convicted of wildlife crime on the same moor after a badger was found dead in a snare in May 2018 (see here).

Campaigners have been targeting NG Bailey for some time and the recent conviction of one of the shooting tenant’s gamekeepers seems to have been the last straw for the landowner.

David Hurcomb, Chief Exec said:

NG Bailey is aware of the prosecution of Austin Hawke, the gamekeeper who is employed by and works for the tenants. To clarify, Austin Hawke is not employed by Denton Park Estate. As a business, we find this behavior totally unacceptable and do not condone this type of conduct – it is not reflective of the company’s values or ethical practices. We have advised the tenants that under no circumstances will the lease be renewed when it expires”.

Excellent news. Although whether that means it’ll be leased to someone other than the current tenant remains to be seen. We’re not sure when the current lease expires.

The efforts of a wide range of people have led to this result, allowing campaigners to join up the dots and apply pressure. Well done to them all, including the RSPB Investigations team, North Yorkshire police, local raptor workers, the Crown Prosecution Service and local campaigners.

Well done also to David Hurcomb and his colleagues at NG Bailey – this is a very welcome decision.

21 thoughts on “Grouse shooting lease on wildlife crime grouse moor will not be renewed”

  1. I suppose it is too much to hope they don’t lease it for shooting: but they could amend the terms to allow for early / instant termination if the next tenant is no better!

    1. Denton Hall is an events centre which could suffer financially from bad publicity. Local campaigners have allowed NG Bailey to review their position without giving them any negative press.
      Reletting to a shooting tenant would not be a wise business decision.

  2. Fair play to them. It does leave me wondering why NG Bailey own an estate. What an odd thing for an engineering and FM services provider to own. The decision behind this lease in the first place must be being seriously called into question internally! Risk v reward for what must have been a low 5 figure rent for this negative publicity for a £500M company.

    1. On the contrary, this is very positive publicity reflecting a caring landowner’s decision taken in the light of wildlife atrocities conducted by an employee of their tenant. It is hoped that this may set a precedent to be followed by other, like-minded, landowners. I don’t see why Baileys owning an estate should be an issue.

  3. Perhaps under these circumstances find a new leaseholder who will do something completely different with the land might be an interesting strategy. Just a thought.

    1. Pony trekking, wildlife photography, bushcraft, foraging, astronomy courses, conservation working holidays and weekends plus corporate team building events with a conservation emphasis, eco lodges and camping etc. That’s of course if the owners need/want to make an income from it directly. They might just gift it to a wildlife charity for some rewilding (and flood reduction) work which in itself would draw in visitors for the local economy. Somehow in Norway and in many other countries where they could have driven grouse shooting using the willow grouse they don’t yet their rural areas aren’t impoverished, in fact very much the opposite.

  4. This sounds positive but only if shooting stops without excuse.

    I would like to see a campaign against the National Trust for their leasing of land for the purpose of, allegedly mock trail hunts and all game bird shooting. It is not compatible with modern society.


  5. Might drop them a line and suggest they turn their land into a trial for how nature conservation could bring income to an area while improving the natural resources…

  6. It would be wishful thinking to hope the area could be turned into a nature reserve, but we can only pray.

  7. I applaud this decision and it is much harder on the criminal keeper, Austin Hawke than it appears. He has been a keeper on that land since he left school at 16( 51 now), his father was head keeper there. It may be he has never lived anywhere else, he has certainly worked nowhere else. I’m not sure as I cannot remember when his father first moved there from Bolton Abbey where he was a beat keeper. Its a hard lesson that criminality really doesn’t pay!

    1. I do not feel that pity is required for any criminal. Unless they can show that they have broken out of the life of crime. Maybe even shown preparedness to give evidence against other perpetrators.


  8. I wonder what the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has to say. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

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