Leeds-based artist Dan Evans is donating an A2-sized oil painting of a male Hen Harrier for an online auction to help support the purchase of satellite tags by the RSPB’s world-renowned Investigations Team.
As we and other sites (most notably the must-read Raptor Persecution UK) have noted many times, the relatively recent roll-out of lightweight satellite tags has been crucial in revealing the extent of Hen Harrier and Golden Eagle persecution across the UK (see for example – Tom the Golden Eagle found dead on a grouse moor). Originally developed to plot the wanderings of birds of prey outside the breeding season, the tags have pointed to the huge scale of illegal killing of raptors by the grouse shooting industry. Indeed, in March 2019 – after several years of delay – a Natural England report was released which stated that at least 72% of tagged Hen Harriers were presumed illegally killed on or close to driven grouse moors, saying unequivocally that “...young hen harriers in England suffer abnormally high mortality compared to populations in Orkney and mainland Scotland and the study provides compelling evidence that the most likely cause is illegal killing in areas associated with grouse moor management.“
While tags have proved a vital tool for tracking the eradication of protected birds of prey, they are still relatively expensive. Which is why the Nidderdale Raptor Study Group, in conjunction with the Northern England Raptor Forum is hosting a fundraiser to support the Investigations Team to buy more tags to track more Hen Harriers.
As the Group explains on their Just Giving page:
The use of satellite tags has already delivered a tremendous amount of new data confirming the continuing high level of persecution on land managed for driven grouse shooting. Additionally the data has highlighted the remarkable mobility of Hen Harriers outside of the breeding season.
In addition to highlighting regions of high levels of persecution the satellite data also identifies previously unknown winter roosting areas. There is a saying among Hen Harrier workers – ‘Harriers bring Harriers’. By following the satellite tagged Harriers we are able to count the un-tagged birds that are also using the winter roosts, some of which were previously unknown prior to the development of satellite tags. That in turn allows researchers to better understand how Hen Harriers occupy the landscape across the northern uplands over winter. Using all of this data the statisticians are able to model the autumn / winter population more accurately.
Sales from both Dan’s evocative original artwork and from limited edition prints will go to the fundraiser and support buying satellite-tags. If you’re interested in bidding – and helping researchers and investigators learn more about these beautiful and heavily-persecuted birds – please visit the auction page. The auction will close on 23 December 2020.