Gamekeeper thrilled to see harriers on his moor.

[singlepic id=243w=300 h=200 float=left]I almost fell off my chair when I read on James Marchington’s blog about a gamekeeper who admits he was thrilled to see harriers on his moor. It would appear the quote was taken from a comment made by a keeper on the “Working for Grouse” blog. Mr. Marchington then makes the following observation – “To suggest that harrier persecution is part and parcel of upland keepering is misleading, and only the most foolish would consider harming birds of prey to boost grouse numbers.”

Well James it just goes to show how little you seem to know about the realities of what has been taking place on England’s grouse moors for many, many years – its called control by persecution, a simple but effective methodology used to increase grouse numbers.

  1. The facts are very simple in this equation, England’s core population of hen harriers are being restricted to just a single moorland estate in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland.
  2. This scenario has been the same for over 20 years.
  3. Last year there were only 7 successful harrier nests in the whole of England, five of these nests were located on one estate owned by United Utilities.
  4. Elsewhere throughout England’s uplands harriers continue to be conspicuous today because of their total absence from all other estates where grouse shooting takes precedence.

I have no doubt that one gamekeeper out of several hundred may be trilled to see a harrier on his moor. That does not suggest to me he would welcome a nesting pair anytime soon, or do we have one exception to the rule here?

A new report by the UK’s nature conservation coordinator on Hen Harriers in the UK says that persecution is a significant factor limiting growth of the Hen Harrier population. James in my view this would appear to put the current situation upon England’s northern uplands in to perspective.

Alan Davies

4 comments to Gamekeeper thrilled to see harriers on his moor.

  • James

    Hi, perhaps I could add a couple of points here.

    The quote is from the Working for Grouse blog, not mine. He’s based in Scotland, and as we all know, the situation in Scotland is rather different to that in England.

    The latest report is a thoroughly unscientific, alarmist attack on shooting and brings nothing new to the debate. And no, I am not ‘in denial’. I have seen and heard enough to know that ‘persecution’ exists. But I had hoped for better from this report.

    The question is, how do we move forward? Naively perhaps, I feel the best hope lies with conflict resolution. That will require people like you, Alan, to take a more mature attitude than the simplistic monstering of gamekeepers shown here.


  • James

    Incidentally, I recommend reading the heartfelt response on the Working for Grouse blog to the hateful comments that blogger has been subjected to – for daring to state that he is passionate about wildlife generally (raptors included) and is a shooter.

    If shooting needs to work on weeding out the ‘bad apples’, perhaps it’s fair that we ask the ‘raptor lobby’ to do something about their own extremist fringe?

  • John Miles

    The fact that there are more Peregrine Falcons breeding in London than on the North Pennines speaks for itself. I know many game keepers and not one of them would have a job or a house if they permitted Birds of Prey to remain on their moor. The so called ‘bad apples’ are all land owners/syndicate owners. These are the people that need exposing starting with the patron of the RSPB.

  • Here! Here! John couldn’t agree with you more. Hope we get a room next to each other in the Tower of London.