Well, didn’t that go well! Larger crowds, more media coverage, #stopkillinghenharriers trending nationally on Twitter. The organisers of every Hen Harrier Day event should be eating their breakfasts this morning with a hard earned feeling of a job well done.
A great example of the media coverage is in this morning’s Sheffield Star https://goo.gl/4vHwYf
In the interest of balanced reporting, they have a quote from Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Association. She says “We welcome the highlighting of the hen harrier issue throughout Hen Harrier weekend and believe those managing the land must be a part of the solution.” So far so good.
Then she is quoted as saying “Our support for the Hen Harrier Recovery Plan is unwavering and we eagerly await a decision on our joint application for a licence to instigate a brood management scheme trial of the Action Plan, which we believe would be another step in the right direction to improve the harrier population in the north of England.”
Here BAWC disagrees. RSPB’s Blanaid Denman amply outlined the problem with brood management at the Sheffield event on Saturday. She has studied the movement of sat tagged Hen Harriers for years and explained that they are wilful birds and won’t stay put. They won’t stay near their natal site, if they don’t want to. Therefore, if they don’t want to, they won’t stay around their translocation site, however carefully it is chosen. The birds will seek out prime nesting sites and there is no protected airspace to stop them going where they will, no Hen Harrier exclusion zone, except that enforced by the gun, poison and pole trap.
This is why BAWC can’t support the Action Plan, why we don’t support Brood Management, and why we believe any member of the general public who has the chance to hear both sides of the argument will conclude strengthening and enforcing the laws against Wildlife Crime is the way forward.
It’s that time of year – the Hen Harrier is back in the news – with the publication of the results of the National Hen Harrier Survey 2016. And like so many times in the past, we at BAWC are bitterly disappointed. The numbers are not good. DEFRA’s “Joint Action Plan to Increase the English Hen Harrier Population” is clearly having little impact.
To quote Martin Harper, Conservation Director for the RSPB: “The latest figures back up a continued trend that we have seen for more than a decade – Hen Harrier numbers are on the decline throughout the UK.”
Furthermore, Martin puts persecution at the centre of the problem: “The illegal killing of this bird of prey is a significant factor behind the diminishing numbers and a large barrier stopping their recovery.”
As at the time of writing, the Hawk and Owl Trust have not commented on the survey. It will be interesting to see what comments they make, given their support for the plan and its controversial support for brood management.
The RSPB stresses that they are not anti-shooting and want to find a sustainable solution for grouse moors. BAWC too is not anti-shooting per se, but what is clear is that one of the UK’s most iconic species is in danger of becoming extinct in England. Throughout the UK, Hen Harrier numbers are falling and the current campaigns and action plans are failing.
BAWC’s position is simple. Raptor persecution is a crime. Hen Harriers and indeed all raptor species in this country are being let down because crimes are going unprosecuted. In addition protection measures are clearly inadequate. BAWC believe that more resources need to be put into the investigation and prosecution of crimes against Hen Harriers. We also believe that vicarious liability should be introduced in England as soon as possible with individuals and employers prosecuted where appropriate.
There are several ways you can help protect our Hen Harriers. Firstly, learning how to Recognise, Record and Report all Wildlife Crime. Find out more here: – https://issuu.com/bawc/docs/bawcs_3rs_leaflet
And of course, you can join hundreds of like-minded individuals across the UK by attending one (or more!) of the Hen Harrier Day 2017 Events – http://henharrierday.org/2017-events.html