A GROUP dedicated to promoting the positive aspects of North Yorkshire shooting estates has pledged to battle a campaign to ban driven grouse field sports.

The rallying cry by the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation (NYMMO), follows an e-petition – set up by author and wildlife expert Dr Mark Avery and supported by Chris Packham and League Against Cruel Sports – receiving more than the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.

A spokesman for the league said the number of people signing for a driven grouse shooting ban dwarfed the 40,000 people said to take part in the sport.

He said while a parliamentary debate was not guaranteed, public concern over grouse shooting meant the matter should be discussed by MPs. He added: “The public recognises the collateral damage from this minority sport based on blasting live birds out of the sky is unacceptable.”

The move by NYMMO also follows a clash last week between North Yorkshire resident Sir Ian Botham and TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham over whether the shoots damage bird of prey populations.

In a post on its Facebook page, the NYMMO, which is understood to represent 12 North Yorkshire estates, including Danby and Thimbleby, said the e-petition could be countered by with positive publicity about grouse shooting and by writing letters to MPs.

The NYMMO is striving to highlight the conservation work its members undertake to the wildlife and showcase benefits to communities.

The post stated: “We need to shoot them down and secure our futures. For all of you that are putting off till tomorrow or thinking it’s not going to happen, now is the time to do something about it, whether it be writing a letter to your MP or just chatting to some new people in the pub. There is no set guidelines but we’re confident if we all work together then we can secure our way of life for the future.”

In another post it stated: “Ian Botham is brilliant not just for his cricketing skills but his passion for shooting and the countryside. Chris Packham has been bowled out for a duck, the sooner he realises and accepts this the better.”