Statement on Hen Harrier Brood Management

NERF Statement issued 21/1/2015 in response to Hawk and Owl Trust Position on Brood Management of nesting Hen Harrier which can be found Here 

Brood Management for Hen Harriers – the wrong solution at the wrong time 


The Northern England Raptor Forum is very concerned to learn through the present debate on social media that the Hawk & Owl Trust is considering its involvement in what we view as the premature application of artificial brood management for Hen Harriers breeding on the upland grouse moors of northern England. We urge the Hawk & Owl Trust not to facilitate this wholly inappropriate technique which is contrary to the principles of sound conservation for a scarce and endangered species. The Hawk & Owl Trust’s involvement in such a scheme at this stage would seem to jeopardise their independence and pander to the undue pressures of the shooting lobby.

NERF believes that the primary objective must be to see the population of the Hen Harrier in England reach a viable and sustained recovery by its own accord, with adequate protection against illegal persecution and through the application of acceptable techniques such as supplementary feeding at the nest. As a minimum we would expect to see the upland Special Protection Areas, protected under EU Directives, demonstrably supporting their designated populations of Hen Harrier. Across the whole region we’d expect to have at least 70 breeding pairs, below which published reports show there would be no economic impact on Red Grouse numbers. Only when this threshold is reached should the case for brood management be considered.

Overall we have concerns that brood management, particularly at this stage, is contrary to the guidance on wild bird translocation, holding them in captivity and their release into a safe and suitable habitat as set out in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidance

Paul Irving, Chairman of the Northern England Raptor Forum said, “The population of the Hen Harrier in northern England is under serious threat and the species is at risk of becoming extinct as a breeding species. This is a truly appalling situation. A wide range of protection measures are needed and needed now but brood management, whilst numbers are so low, would represent unacceptable interference and manipulation of these wild and majestic birds simply for the sake of grouse shooting interests.”


The Northern England Raptor Forum is an established voluntary body representing species’ conservation interests of local raptor study groups across the region. Our members operate long term field-studies to monitor the populations and breeding success of birds of prey in the uplands of northern England ranging from Northumberland to the South Peak District. Where required, the monitoring is done under the appropriate licence from Natural England.

Our studies provide the most comprehensive set of evidence based breeding information available. The results are supplied to the national database, the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, where they are used to further species conservation and protection.

For any further clarification or any queries please contact NERF via the Contact Us Form