Search Results for: hen harrier

As two more Hen Harriers ‘disappear’ it’s time to roar not whisper

So, Cumbria Police are appealing for information following the disappearance of two male Hen Harriers, in what is typically described as ‘suspicious circumstances’, from the RSPB’s reserve at Geltsdale. Two more highly protected birds that the RSPB, the RSPB’s members, and birders everywhere cherish and thrill to. It’s become common to describe wildlife crime as ‘underpinning’ the operation of grouse moors, but as these two Hen Harriers – both male, both apparently provisioning nests on the Geltsdale reserve – ‘disappear’ maybe it’s time we started to say that wildlife crime is actually the scaffolding that keeps the whole dodgy edifice from falling over. Shoot operators can not make the vast profits from farming grouse that they want if there are birds of prey on the farm too: and rather than obey the law, admit that other species have a right to survive in the uplands, birds of prey are (in far too many cases) simply eradicated. Our NGOs must drop the ‘neutrality’, the studied politeness, and understand that while the opposition in the corner might look fierce, there are millions of us out here who will get in the ring and fight like tigers alongside them – but only if and when it looks like there is fight in them too.

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Yet another Hen Harrier disappears in ‘suspicious circumstances’

The RSPB is reporting that yet another satellite-tagged Hen Harrier, this time a female called Yarrow, has disappeared in ‘suspicious circumstances’ (legalese for ‘we have a damn good idea what happened but right now we can’t prove it’). Using the rolling total on Raptor Persecution UK (as far as most people are concerned the most accessible – and certainly most current – talliers of just how many Hen Harriers have ‘disappeared’ or been confirmed illegally killed) that would make fifty-three since 2018! Of course birds die naturally but when they do their satellite-tags don’t die with them. They keep on transmitting, sending location data to researchers. Yet when Hen Harriers die their satellite-tags almost always in effect die too – because whoever kills them is removing the tag and burying it, wrapping it in lead, destroying it etc etc etc. Those are not the actions of for example birdwatchers or raptor researchers or anyone except wildlife criminals who do not want Hen Harriers on ‘their’ moorland. To be fair, that might not just be gamekeepers – some landowners don’t want them either.

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Northumberland | Hen Harrier ‘disappears’ next to grouse moor

Another week, and yet another Hen Harrier has ‘gone missing’/’disappeared’/’been killed’ near the now-traditional sinkhole for ‘lost’ Hen Harriers: a grouse moor. Grouse moors, those inhospitable, largely barren grouse farms where traps outnumber native predators and birds of prey (protected by law for decades) are routinely killed by the ‘professionals’ who insist we take them seriously when it comes to the future of the uplands. This (according to Raptor Persecution UK) takes to fifty-two the number of Hen Harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances (ie ‘we know you did it, we just can’t prove it’) since 2018. Let that sink in: 52 Hen Harriers have been put down in three years. The latest, Tarras, a young satellite-tagged female less than a year old, spent her short life “hunting on [a] grouse moor and roosting either on it or just off of it” when her tag was silenced less than month ago.

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Hen Harrier | ‘Epic journey’ not the real story

A recent article in the Lancashire Telegraph – reprinted below – is interesting, and perhaps not for reasons that are immediately obvious. We already know that Hen Harriers regularly make the ‘epic journey’ across the Channel, for example, and we already know that the crossing is dangerous. No, what is particularly striking is that a journalist whose social media feed doesn’t ordinarily feature wildlife (that’s an observation, not a criticism in any way) is covering an RSPB press-release and taking ‘ownership’ of a bird on behalf of a county which the vast majority of its residents (if they’re typical of everywhere else) won’t have even heard of…Partisan or not, anything that encourages local residents to think about Bowland’s harriers as ‘theirs’ is a very welcome step forward. Hopefully it will encourage an interest in the birds and – having learned about them – a desire to protect them.

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RPUK | FIFTYONE Hen Harriers missing or dead since 2018

Raptor Persecution UK are by now, as far as most people are concerned, the most accessible – and certainly most current – talliers of just how many Hen Harriers have ‘disappeared’ or been confirmed illegally killed on grouse moors. The site has today updated their list again following a response earlier this month to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request made to Natural England. In their most recent post they put the figure at a staggering fifty-one recorded dead or missing Hen Harriers – and that’s SINCE 2018. We don’t want to tread on RPUK’s toes in any way (though we’ve been assured many times by Dr Ruth Tingay that all she wants is to get the information out there and seen by as many people as possible) so we suggest heading over to the RPUK website immediately – but to summarise what they’re saying today is that they began compiling this astonishing and disgraceful roll-call of dead protected birds in 2018 because that is the year that the ridiculously self-important grouse shooters decided they would graciously stop illegally killing Hen Harriers and welcome them back to the moors instead…

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Natural England and FOI data on Hen Harriers

Natural England comes in for a huge amount of flak because as the government’s conservation watchdog we need it to be effective – but it clearly isn’t. The appointment of Tony Juniper as NE Chair in March 2019 brought a brief flicker of hope that the department would take up the fight for wildlife again, but that hasn’t transpired. NE’s support for the slaughter of badgers to protect dairy farming is an especially egregious example, and there are far too many cases of NE supporting the shooting industry (they work very closely with shooting lobbyists BASC for example and have blocked access to countryside to help out a shoot adjacent to an SSSi in Wiltshire). Surely though NE aren’t deliberately hiding information from the public? After all, it’s we ‘the public’ that fund Natural England. Data on where these birds are being killed comes via satellite-tags that we the taxpayer are buying. We fund the staff working on collecting the data. And of course we pay them to run the epically stupid Hen Harrier ‘brood meddling’ scheme which sees Hen Harrier chicks moved from grouse moors to ‘protect them’ from illegal killing on grouse moors before re-releasing them back into the countryside when of course they fly back to the grouse moors and are illegally killed…

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RPUK | FOI request reveals more ‘missing’ Hen Harriers

The always excellent Raptor Persecution UK (RPUK) website has posted two blogs (today and yesterday) based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to Natural England, nominally “the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England” but a department which has been so ‘stripped to the bone’ by successive governments that it now appears toothless and ineffective in the face of the rising tide of wildlife crime impacting many of our mammals and birds (and in some examples actually appears to be facilitating the very shooting industry it ought to be monitoring – see Natural England protects shoot from ‘disturbance’). According to the information released by Natural England under FoI regs, a number of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers have gone ‘missing’ since September 2020 including a brood-meddled male whose tag’s last known fix was on 20th September 2020, right next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire, and another young bird whose last tag’s fix was inside the Yorkshire Dales National park.

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Hen Harriers return to Wharfedale moorland

Well, well, well. Who could possibly have predicted this etc etc. In what must be one of grouse shooting’s worst-case scenarios coming true, a previously ‘dead’ moorland that banned grouse shooting activities (ie high levels of raptor persecution and rotational burning) has reportedly sprung back to life, birds of prey have started to roost, and peatland habitats have begun to regenerate. After all the time and money grouse shooting’s lobbyists have spent telling us that without the skilled management techniques (ie high levels of raptor persecution and rotational burning) of the ‘conservationists with guns’ Britain’s uplands would simply curl up and waste away…Nonsense, of course. Kudos NG Bailey, and kudos the Yorkshire Post and journalist Grace Newton for continuing to speak up for wildlife in a region that has repeatedly been acknowledged as the worst for raptor persecution in the UK

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