We have just learned that Natural England have just issued a licence permitting the killing of 10 Buzzards to protect young pheasants-an alien species.
Natural England has issued a licence for buzzard control.
Natural England issued a licence last night permitting the control of up to 10 buzzards to prevent serious damage to young pheasants.
This is what 9 dead Buzzards look like
The licence is time-limited with stringent conditions and is based on the law, policy and best available evidence. It follows rigorous assessment after other methods had been tried unsuccessfully over a 5-year period.
It is stipulated that the licence must be used in combination with non-lethal measures and only on buzzards in and immediately around the animal pens – not on passing birds. These conditions are designed to make the licensed activity both proportionate and effective and we will continue to work with the applicant to assess this.
Killing wild birds without a licence from Natural England is illegal.
This is a new project to help boost numbers of Golden Eagles in the South of Scotland. Launched in August 2015, we are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for major funding to develop the work.
The 2014 report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) found that Southern Scotland could potentially support up to 16 eagle pairs. Presently, there are no more than 2 to 4 pairs, with limited nesting success.
Beginning today Tuesday (26th July until Saturday 6th August), we are hosting an online single item art auction to help raise funds for Hen Harrier Day. The item consists of a prestigious colour print kindly donated and signed by Martin Ridley in aid of our Forest of Bowland Hen Harrier Day 7th August at Dunsop Bridge. The framed colour print measuring 62cm x 44cm on canvas depicts 2 Peregrine falcons flying in hot pursuit of wigeon and is aptly titled “Double Trouble”.
A cast of Peregrines chasing Wigeon by Wildlife Artist Martin Ridley
Why the RSPB is withdrawing support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan, read what Martin Harper had to say.
I’m generally very patient. My natural preference is to build partnerships and work to make positive change from the inside with those who want to abide by the law and deliver progress.
However, sometimes that approach simply doesn’t work and there can be no clearer example of that right now than hen harriers, where illegal killing of this rare bird remains its most significant threat.
The RSPB played a full part in the production of Defra’s Hen Harrier Action Plan and despitedisagreeing with certain points (notably brood management), welcomed its publication earlier this year. However, at the time, I noted the need for immediate progress to help build trust in the approach.
Unfortunately this has not happened.
In 2015, we were all extremely frustrated by there being just six successful hen harrier nests from 12 attempts in England. 2016 is on course to be much worse, with only three nests at the time of writing, none of which are on grouse moors.
Some will argue that the weather or vole population is to blame, however, early returns from the national hen harrier survey suggest numbers away from intensively managed grouse moors in north and west Scotland have done ok. We remain convinced that the primary reason for the hen harrier‘s continuing scarcity remains illegal killing.
Simply put, hen harriers (and other birds of prey) are illegally killed on some estates because they eat grouse. Crimes are committed to increase the number of grouse that can be shot. This year, there have been a series of depressingly predictable incidents in England and Scotland, the disappearance of the hen harriers ‘Chance’ and ‘Highlander’, the use of pole traps and the hen harrier decoy in the Peak District. And as well as hen harriers, it has also been a really bad year for red kites in North and West Yorkshire with several suspicious deaths. In addition, there are more cases working their way through the legal system.
All of this adds up to a picture which shows that the commitments made in the Hen Harrier Action Plan are not being delivered. People are still breaking the law and not enough is being done within the grouse shooting community to effect change.
Some will argue that we should be more patient as behavioural change takes time. But the hen harrier does not have time on its side and the longer hen harriers remain on the brink, the greater public antipathy towards intensive grouse shooting will become.
Hen harriers and other birds of prey in our uplands will not recover without a completely different approach.
We have therefore decided to withdraw our support from Defra’s Hen Harrier Action Plan.
We have come to this conclusion because we believe that reform to protect the hen harrier will only come through licensing of driven grouse shooting where, for example, crimes committed on estates managed for shooting should result in the withdrawal of their right to operate.
A licensing system isn’t about tarring everyone with the same brush, or blaming a whole community for the actions of the few. Quite the opposite: it is effectively a targeted ban that will stamp out illegal activity and drive up the environmental standards of shooting.
Law abiding estates have nothing to fear from this system and, indeed, I believe that it is in their own interests to champion such an approach. We believe that this is the only way to deliver a significant shift in attitudes and potentially secure a future for their sport. Licensing systems appear to work well in most other European countries, so why not here as well?
We fully support the current petition in Scotland and we would like to reinvigorate the call for Defra to introduce licensing in England too.
Of course, we will continue to work on the ground with our partners, especially raptor workers (who monitor and protect birds of prey), landowners who wish to see a progressive future, local people and the police to provide the most effective possible year round protection.
My preference is always for the partnership approach, but partnership requires action from both sides. In this case, that has failed. When shooting organisations are either unable or unwilling to lead the necessary change to rein in illegal activity, then reform must be delivered from outside. That is what we will now seek to do though promoting licensing.
I fully expect our critics (such as the grouse industry funded You Forgot The Birds) to push out a wearyingly predictable series of attacks on the RSPB in coming weeks. I can only imagine that this is designed to divert attention from criminal activity on some intensive grouse moors. But this won’t shake our resolve to seek change.
An early opportunity to talk more about all of this will be at the Hen Harrier Day events. I’ll be at the Hen Harrier Day North East event at the RSPB’s Saltholme reserve on Sunday 7 August, while my boss Mike Clarke will be at the event at Rainham Marshes on Saturday 6 August. Other RSPB representatives will be at various of the other events too. I hope to see many of you there and hopefully many more will be able to attend other events across the country.
Together, we can and will save our hen harriers.
RSPB Scotland has appealed for information following the discovery of illegally-set spring traps in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The conservation organisation has commended the actions of two members of the public who alerted it to a distressed bird caught in a trap they came across while out walking but is disappointed that, as with many wildlife crimes, the perpetrators are yet to be identified.
Following further searches in the area clear evidence was found that eight similar traps had been deployed, attached to stakes and baited with dead rabbits
Surprisingly the only successful raptors to breed this year in the Forest of Bowland is the Eagle Owl, one pair have managed against all the odd to raise a brood of 3 chicks on moorland owned by United Utilities this season. What is amazing about this years development, their first clutch of eggs are reported as having been stolen. It is unusual for an Eagle Owl to lay a repeat clutch, but that is just what the experts are saying took place.
Brood of Forest of Bowland Eagle Owls, but what does the future hold for them
The whole operation has now been filmed by the One Show and will be broadcast in the next week or so. Are we now going to see claims by the shooting community that the successful breeding pair have killed and eaten all the missing Hen Harriers and Peregrines which have now been lost from the Forest of Bowland? And we should ask what is the future for the 3 fledged owlets once they migrate to other shooting estates in the region, will they be killed, most likely sadly.
Girun and Volcaire – two young bearded vultures bred in captivity within the VCF managed captive-breeding network – were placed in the hacking platform on the 3rd of June, as part of the reintroduction project in the Alps-Grands Causses, now managed under the LIFE GYPCONNECT project.
Black vulture in Mallorca – new record this breeding season with 25 eggs hatched – but some controversy over access to exclusion areas too.
Mark Avery and Chris Packham drinking a few cans of the Local Hen Harrier beer, the only type of Hen Harrier anyone is now likely to see in the Forest of Bowland, or anywhere else in England for that matter following extensive persecution. Please sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003
And guess what, you don’t need a pair of binoculars to see these Hen Harriers, nor to you shoot them, you drink them, as many as you like.
Between the years 1906 and 1910, pioneering photographer Harry Macpherson laboured long and hard amongst the Scottish Grampian highlands to create the first photographic record of breeding Golden Eagles in Scotland. Now Terry Pickford recounts the exploits of this unsung Highland warrior from a past era.
“In a wild deer-forest in the heart of the Grampian range, there lies a dark gloomy corrie, where the sun penetrates for but a few short hours during the long summer’s day. At the head of the gorge where the rocks rise almost perpendicularly from the banks of a brawling burn, a pair of Golden Eagles had first made their eyrie in by-gone days.”
Plate 18 – Father and Daughter
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