We’ve written extensively about Hen Harriers in the first six month’s of this website’s existence. That’s because this is a highly-protected bird of prey that is declining (to the point of almost becoming extinct as a breeding bird in England) entirely because of illegal persecution on grouse shooting estates. There is a war being waged against Hen Harriers because they have the temerity to feed themselves, sometimes taking grouse or pheasant chicks that estates want to sell to shooters.
There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ any more: check out what Dr Cathleen Thomas, the lead on the EU Life Hen Harrier Project said in a podcast with us just a few months ago: “…we’ve recovered birds with shot in them…we’ve found birds with injuries consistent with shooting…and this year we found Rannoch with her foot in a trap which was just horrendous.”
We quoted Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, just a few days ago commenting on the death in Ireland of a young hen Harrier called Mary, “Here is another Hen Harrier which has failed to make it through its first year, thanks to the spectre of illegal persecution. Time and time again, satellite-tagging is pinpointing illegal persecution and critically proving that young Hen Harriers are being killed before they have the chance to breed and bolster the fragile British population. Raptor persecution in connection with land managed for shooting is the number one threat to the Hen Harrier in Britain.”
So what has been the government and Natural England’s answer to this ongoing, almost institutionalised, wildlife crime? Enforce the law? Prosecute estates? No, remove Hen Harrier chicks (highly-protected under law etc etc), breed them somewhere else, and when the grouse shooting ‘season’ is over, perhaps release them back on the estates providing that’s okay with grouse moor owners.
It’s an utterly ludicrous response derisively termed ‘brood meddling‘ by campaigners, and is designed to help shooting not Hen Harriers.
Which is the way that renowned conservationist and campaigner Dr Mark Avery (co-founder of Wild Justice, a mainstay of Hen Harrier Day, and author of “Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands” which dissected the driven grouse shooting industry) also sees it.
And it is why he is launching a legal challenge to ‘brood meddling’ – one we wholeheartedly support.
Mark Avery, February 2020
Back in 2018 nearly 1000 people supported a legal challenge I brought against Natural England’s decision to license a highly controversial scheme that involved the chicks of the rare and threatened Hen Harrier being taken away from grouse moors in the uplands of England so as to make life easier for grouse shooting. Yes, it’s a daft idea, no Hen Harrier would vote for it and my lawyers and I considered it to be illegal. Well, we had three days in court in December 2018, and January 2019, and then heard in March 2019 that we had lost the case.
But we are heading back to the courts, to the Court of Appeal, to challenge this judgment. My legal team advise that the judgment was legally flawed.
We’re hopeful that we will win our appeal, but if we lose then I need to find £5000 to pay costs, and there are some other lawyers’ and court costs involved so I am looking to raise £10,500. I’m glad to say that there is around £3,900 left over from a previous successful legal challenge and that can go towards the costs of this case so I’m asking for your help in raising the missing £6,600 please.
Please help – I’ll be very grateful if you do and if we win then Hen Harriers will be safer as a result.
If we raise more money than is needed, the additional funds will be held for up to a year and spent on other legal work to benefit Hen Harriers or other environmental causes. Thank you.
- The link for the crowdfunder: Justice for Hen Harriers – the appeal #justice4henharriers
- For more on brood meddling: Hen Harrier Brood Meddling 101.
- Header image screen capture at 12:35 03 Feb 20
Edit: just 24 hours later the donations have rolled in: