Tag: hen harrier

Herald Scotland | The story of Tarras and a persecution that must be ended for good

“NOT again. Surely.” So starts an opinion piece by Mark Smith in the Herald Scotland on the death of Tarras, a young female harrier found dead last month. The Herald Scotland is the longest-running national newspaper in the world with a circulation just over 25,000. Not hugely-read in national media terms, perhaps, but look how far we’ve come. Rather than unquestioningly printing lobbyist denials and the usual guff about how shooting estates are actually ‘just like nature reserves’ and ‘no-one manages the countryside better than a gamekeeper’, the author concludes his first sentence with the lines: “You’ve probably already guessed what’s coming next, haven’t you? She had been hunting on or near grouse moors.” Yes, of course we’d all guessed. ‘Disappearing’ Hen Harriers and grouse moors are rarely NOT found in the same sentence. We’ve heard it so damn often that it’s expected now. Even national newspapers have made the link.

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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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Mail Online lobbying (badly) for grouse moors

There is nothing wrong with lobbying (it’s what we do after all), but we do think that lobbyists – and the people who ‘report’ their words – ought at least to feel obliged to be as accurate as they can (it’s what we do after all). So, here’s a little Fact Check-style breakdown for the journos at the Daily Mail who copy out press-releases from grouse moor owners with very little analysis – and for any of the Mail’s readers who might wonder just how accurate these ‘reports’ really are…So, after all that Daily Mail, do you think that grouse moor owners are ‘lobbying to educate’ or ‘lobbying to mislead’? Answers on a postcard please….

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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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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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Hen Harrier artwork auction

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. 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. Now artist Dan Evans is donating an evocative iol paiting of a male Hen Harrier to a fundraiser orgainsed by the Nidderdale Raptor Study Group, in conjunction with the Northern England Raptor Forum, to support the world-renowned RSPB Investigations Team to buy more tags to track more Hen Harriers…

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