The Northern England Raptor Forum is again pleased to support the Hen Harrier Day which highlights the dreadful plight of the Hen Harrier in England. We join with others in drawing attention to the appallingly low numbers of this wonderful bird of prey in our uplands and to the unnaturally poor breeding success of those precious few pairs that do attempt to nest.
Studies show that the English uplands should hold at least 300 pairs yet there are typically just a handful of breeding attempts each year. The evidence is that illegal persecution on commercial grouse moors is suppressing the population. It is especially frustrating that this damning situation occurs on land that includes Special Protection Areas (SPAs) , designated under EU Directives with the aim of affording the highest levels of international protection and conservation.
We call for stronger legal protection measures and new legislation to introduce the concept of shoots being licensed with consequences if the shoot fails to follow the law when it comes to species and habitat protection. We also look to Defra to publish the agreed parts of the long overdue Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Emergency Action Plan which we trust will secure the rightful place of the Hen Harrier in our uplands and fulfil the government’s own obligations towards SPAs.
Paul Irving, Chairman of the Northern England Raptor Forum said, “Long standing fieldwork studies by members of the Northern England Raptor Forum have helped track the fortunes of this magnificent bird across the northern uplands and sadly the picture is of a catastrophic and sustained decline. The English breeding population is now perilously close to extinction due largely to illegal persecution and unjustified intolerance in and around driven grouse estates. It is appalling that we could be facing such a loss when all we ask is for people to obey the law and to offer sanctuary and protection to this icon of the moors”
Paul Irving added, “The time for dialogue and fact finding reports is long gone, Hen Harriers need effective protection and concerted action and they need it now”
For more information please contact the Northern England Raptor Forum Here