Three young Montagu’s Harriers killed in the Netherlands

Illegal persecution of birds of prey is, of course, not confined to the UK (though grouse moors are exceptionally bad when it comes to raptor persecution). A recent report from the Netherlands highlights that ignorance and prejudice is alive and well in other parts of Europe too.


The persecution of birds of prey seems like something from earlier times, but is still relevant in 2020. It occurs to a greater or lesser extent throughout the Netherlands. The persecution is very targeted at birds of prey themselves or, to put it very cynically, ‘as collateral damage’ in the persecution of other species such as the fox.

Suspected deliberate killing of harriers
In the many years that harriers’ nests have been protected, there have been many situations surrounding nests where there were doubts as to whether the young were a natural cause of death. Such as the sudden disappearance of both parent birds, or healthy looking young all of which suddenly lay dead in the nest or young birds hanging dead in a fence that had just been placed to protect the young. Question marks, suspicions, but unfortunately no hard evidence.

2020 young Montagu’s Harriers intentionally killed
Until the beginning of July this year, when a colleague who was about to place a protection cage around a nest of Montagu’s Harriers (Red List species) found a very clear form of bird-of-prey hatred. Near the nest were three dead young Montagu’s Harriers in the middle of the road. After contacting the Extraordinary Investigation Officer (BOA) of the Province of Groningen Environment & Environment department, he immediately came to investigate the situation. Together with our colleague, the immediate surroundings of the nest were examined and there were clear traces of a human walking to and from the nest. It can be concluded from this that someone knowingly took three young of this rare species from the nest, killed them and left them openly on the road. A criminal act.

Extra eyes in the field, report suspicious situations!
All over the Netherlands, people are voluntarily and professionally engaged in researching, mapping, protecting and keeping an eye on all types of birds of prey. These people are important for gaining insight into the degree of persecution and in which areas it takes place. This may also partly work preventively against prosecution. But extra eyes are needed. If you are working in the field or as a holiday maker and you find a dead bird of prey or you come across a suspicious situation around a nesting place, always contact the relevant Environmental Service or provincial coordinators of the Working Group of Birds of Prey Netherlands, because hotlines for this differ per province. Do not pick up the animal yourself, but take pictures of the situation where possible, secure the location against any changes.

Grauwe Kiekendief – Kenniscentrum Akkervogels
20 Aug 2020