GWCT in extraordinary attack on Bradford Council

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) reputation took another nosedive yesterday when it launched an extraordinary (and unsubstantiated) attack on Bradford Council.

Video footage had emerged on Twitter of a tractor being used to cut heather on Baildon Moor at a critical time for ground-nesting birds. The moor is owned by Bradford Council.

GWCT was tagged in to the tweet and Andrew Gilruth, Director of Communications, went from nought to nasty without any apparent hesitation or pause for thought.

The video was posted on the GWCT’s YouTube account (here), a blog was posted on GWCT’s website (here) and a string of bullying tweets spewed forth to Bradford Council. The council was directly accused of causing the damage.

Bradford Council responded by saying it had not authorised the heather cutting and had reported the incident to Natural England and to the police. A councillor (Alex Ross-Shaw) also confirmed these details. GWCT then started to backtrack (although noticeably didn’t apologise) but the harm had already been done to Bradford Council’s reputation, not least thanks to Andrew Gilruth’s rather unpleasant sneering and spin-doctoring.

It’s not hard to understand the trigger for such nastiness. Many of you will recall it was Bradford Council that banned grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor in 2018 after a concerted campaign by locals (see here) and last year it threatened legal action after allegations that grouse shooters were driving red grouse off Ilkley Moor on to a neighbouring moor to be shot (see here).

For those of you not on social media here is a taste of the content:

Interestingly it looks like someone’s had a quiet word with the GWCT  – perhaps it was Bradford Council’s lawyers, because this morning the GWCT blog has been carefully edited to remove the baseless accusations previously levelled at the council. The changes are underlined in orange:

Funniest of all, at the foot of the revised blog is this appeal for cash, to help GWCT continue its so-called ‘vital work’ (that’ll be smearing the reputation of those who don’t support grouse shooting).



32 thoughts on “GWCT in extraordinary attack on Bradford Council”

  1. Yes, when I saw it I couldn’t believe the tone but realised where it had come from, in so far as cessation of grouse slaughter on Bradford MBC owned moorland, but is that really the way to win friends and influence others?

    Let’s hope Bradford MDC legal bods are on the case given the unfounded assertions made by Mr Gilruth, particularly as he and or GWCT do not apologise once they realise their error.

    :Let’s hope it gets into national news outlets ….

  2. Seems GWCT and particularly Gilruth now have a mouth so big they can manage to get both feet in it, without pause for breath or thought.

  3. Mr Gilruth and GWCT imply in the various Tweets etc, that Bradford Council must know what is going on as they are the owners of the land. Presumably such a logic would also apply to grouse moor owners and managers when illegal persecution takes place on grouse moors?

  4. Andrew Gilruth is becoming ever more unpleasant by the day. Desperation at the increasingly difficult position he is required to defend I guess. He’ll probably be relieved when all this is over and he can find himself a decent job.

  5. Isn’t this the same organisation that claims anti-bloodsport activists (their name for conservationists) are too quick to cast the first stone? Nice to see Gilruth fact finding before accusing (if only!).

  6. If the GWCT are so concerned about damage to nesting birds, why are they still happy to burn up to the 15th April and beyond,when it is well known birds are now nesting earlier?

    1. Not only do these estates burn the heather til (usually) mid-April when birds are building nests but many also do exactly what Gilruth is complaining about – they cut the heather! They do this around the area to be burnt to create a fire break. The hypocrisy is staggering.

  7. Lots of skylarks and golden plover are known to nest on this moor. Interesting as it’s no longer managed for grouse shooting!

    1. and hasnt been for decades. In my opinion, it is just another example of GWCTs lack of credibility, just a mouthpiece for spoilt little rich kids stamping their feet if they dont get their own way. Desperately trying to justify the unjustifiable is rapidly leading to the house of cards falling down.

  8. I have no skills in these matters. I wonder if there is a date of filming with the video, and whether the tractor registration is visible.

    Or would that be wrong to ask under sub-judice rules?

  9. I wouldn’t say it was “nasty or sneering” from what I read – perhaps a bit hyperbolic. Certainly misguided but it seemed he was just trying to prove a point and hold the council to their responsibilities, though could certainly have accepted their explanations with better grace.
    Though the comment about “thousands of people would have seen the burning for miles” did make me laugh – yes they would, probably because it’s so obviously visible!

    1. Yes and if fire was being used every chance of it running out of control and the emergency services and volunteers being called in to stop it, maybe for days on end.

  10. Pretty poor from Andrew Gilruth, even by his standards. The council answered his question straight off but that clearly wasn’t what the Sultan of Spin wanted to hear!!

  11. Funny how Gilruth et al get all lathered-up with confected anger at someone destroying heather when a key part of ‘moorland management’ (aka moorland manipulation to produce unnaturally high numbers of red grouse) punted by the grouse killers is routine destruction of heather by, er, setting fire to it. The hypocrisy is staggering and these numb skulls obviously have no sense of irony whatsoever. When the next hen harrier goes missing up there, let’s see just how miffed the likes of Gilruth get…

  12. So..who was driving the tractor and who told him to do this?….Im not too impressed by this bickering without knowing the facts. Looks like an own goal by the good guys…

    1. Who indeed? Who owns the tractor and flail? There cant be that many of that make and model in the area close to the cutting?

      In the end, it might come to naught, the gamekeeper who filmed the activity may find that his evidence is inadmissible in the court…. I hope he finds this really frustrating.

      Oh and while he rightly points out the likely impact on ground nesting birds…..his dogs are running around un-restrained….. the number one gamekeeper outrage trigger….

  13. The GWCT have almost completely forgotten who they are. Perhaps every morning until they remember they should read the first words on their website. “We are a leading UK charity conducting conservation science to enhance the British countryside for public benefit.”

  14. The mower is probably a farming tenant, doing it without thought or consultation. Who ever it is the phrase that comes to mind is “he deserves his arse kicking until his nose bleeds.” metaphorically of course!

  15. One does hope a writ is flying their way from Messers Suem,Grabbit and Run engaged by Bradford

  16. What puke inducing hypocrisy and spin as if they care about rare wildlife. This time of year you’ll often get the moorland forums posting close up pics of egg filled wader nests to advertise the supposed conservation benefits of grouse moors, I can’t bear looking at these without thinking of the potential disturbance to the parents even if any/all care was taken not to do so – why take unnecessary risk at all to increase the chance eggs will be chilled or predators find the nest? Scandalous! I’ve even seen a MF in Yorkshire that had someone holding up nightjar chicks to show what can live on a grouse moor (but I bet they were on the periphery of it). And this spring another one posted a video from someone creeping up on a golden eagle that was feeding on a mountain hare, the eagle inevitably took off and the person with the camera just moved in to film the dead hare to tell us how good grouse moors are for hares and thereby eagles – not when an idiot is scaring you off your kill it isn’t. This was probably illegal and the RSPB investigations team was informed. I’ve never, ever strayed off paths through woods or moors so that I could avoid disturbing wildlife especially at nesting time. Even when I was a wee boy I would have known that what these moorland forums were up to was incredibly irresponsible and selfish and would have been disgusted. Now the exact same groups which are so keen to make out genuine conservationists are ‘bird botherers’ are doing so much damage for their pathetic PR efforts, and this Gilruth driven smear exercise is typical of that community’s double standards.

  17. So Mr Gilruth believes that landowners should know what is going on at all times on the land that they own and take responsibility for what takes place on that land. I agree with him on that.

    To give an extreme example. What happened on Invermark Estate in 2013 when someone crept on to the estate, presumably with a chainsaw, and felled a tree containing what would have been the first breeding attempt in East Scotland of White-tailed Eagles? And the dozens of missing satellite tagged raptors. Landowners and estate staff deny all knowledge.

    A strong whiff of hypocracy here. You cannot have it both ways, Mr Gilruth.

  18. One tactic of the shooting industry is to declare incidents, as, “someone trying to tarnish our good name”. Could they be doing the misdeed this time just to start an argument to support their excellent moorland management?

    Just asking?


    1. Given that GWCT (game and wildlife culling tossers)has always claimed to be a “proper” science based organisation they and particularly the odious Gilruth are doing very nicely at seriously tarnishing their own reputation ( not sure they ever had a good name). They have become so low they are almost an arm of the dreadful BFSS, sorry, Countryside Areliars.

      1. The fact that the GWCT is happy to have Andrew Gilruth as its spokesmen tells you all you need to know about this organisation.

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