Following the publication of Terry Pickford’s recent Hen Harrier article ‘The Hen Harrier is Dead, Long live the Hen Harrier’, we decided to find out for ourselves just how reliable the satellite units used by Natural England to track the movement of hen harriers in both Scotland and England have been over the last ten or so years.
Microwave Telemetry, Inc.
Suites K and L
We would like to know details of the reliability of your Micro Wave Telemetry 9.5 g solar rechargeable unit currently being used on hen harriers here in the UK. It appears after being fitted with these units the majority of these birds are going off the radar. There are suggestions, which we do not accept, that these units are failing for reasons not specified. We would like an indication from you of the accepted failure rate of say 100 of these units?
We believe these suggestions are just an excuse to hide the fact that the majority of harriers fitted with your units are being illegally shot, using the unit failure as an excuse to hide what is truly taking place. Your comments would be appreciated.
Thank you for your email.
Most of the 9.5 g solar PTTs built for hen harriers have been used by Stephen Murphy in the UK. He has been pretty successful recovering downed PTTs, and none of the recovered PTTs he has returned to us for refurbishment were defective. (He could give you more information about the circumstances of their recovery, which may be of help to you. Stephen can be reached by telephone at 44 07973911594 or by email at [email protected])
Our Assessment of the detail received
Based upon the reply received from Micro Wave Telemetry, this is our assessment of the reliability of the units fitted to hen harriers by Natural England.
It sounds like Stephen Murphy managed to recovered most (if not all) of the satellite units that he attached to Hen Harriers and that of the ones he recovered none were defective, which we must assume means Natural England knows both where the dead birds were found and with a little investigation what killed them.
The question we must now ask is what has happened to each of the four Cumbrian hen harriers chicks fitted with satellite tags this year? Are they still being tracked and if so where are they if they have not already disappeared?