The Hen Harrier, talking a load of old Waddell.

Despite a great deal of hard work and effort to conserve our native English hen harriers, involved many years of fruitless discussion with the shooting community to reach a consensus, we are are losing the battle but the political war will continue let there be no mistake about that. Bring on Mark Avery’s next e-petition. In the last 9 months the shooting estates have graphically shown their hand by demonstrating a callous hatred and disregard for the hen harrier resulting in the contrived disappearance of a total of 7 hen harriers, blaming these losses on a variety of unlikely reasons, other than persecution of course.

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His Grace the Duke of Westminster photographed at a meeting at Abbeystead October 2007

The 2 satellite tagged harriers which disappeared last season from moorland owned by His Grace The Duke of Westminster at Roeburndale, a second fledged chick lost from the Higher Thrushgill estate near the village of Wray were almost certainly shot and their satellite trackers destroyed. These disappearances have now been eclipsed by this year’s 5 missing male hen harriers each servicing variable nests containing eggs on red grouse moorland. As though these tragic losses were not bad enough, we now know at least 20 fertile hen harrier eggs were destroyed, allowed to go cold, after the females from each territory had abandon their nests.

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Lindsey Waddell talking to George Day at Abbeystead in October 2007

Writing in the Shooting Times last week Lindsey Waddell, Chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation, once again came to the rescue of this gamekeeper chums by blaming the loss of the 5 male hen harriers on predation by peregrines. Mr Waddell’s claim does not take into account the fact that peregrine numbers both the Forest of Bowland and in the northern Pennines have been significantly reduced by persecution. In the Forest of Bowland for example, numbers of viable territories have been reduced from 19 to just 2 occupies sites. Viable territories in the northern Pennines have been similarly wiped out on red grouse moorland. Perhaps Mr. Waddell would like to explain to the rest of us what predators he believes could be responsible in Bowland and in the northern Pennines for the peregrine’s collapse throughout these two moorland area? There are two old sayings “Leopards never change their spots” and “Old habits never die.” All we are hearing from the shooting fraternity are excuses and more excuses, anything but the truth.

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Gamekeeper inside gun butt from where driven red grouse are shot in their hundreds

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Talks hosted by the Environment Council between shooting representatives and raptor conservation organisations in England held over a number of years importantly gave the shooting fraternity years to stall for time. While these talks were ongoing this allowed harriers and peregrines on red grouse moorlands to be exterminated with little that could be done to counter what was being undertaken with impunity. The loss of hen harriers we have witnessed in just the last 9 months is the shooting community’s way of showing their contempt, by sticking 2 fingers into the air and saying we can do what we like and no one can stop us. The warning signs were clear for everyone to see following the loss of harriers from Bowland in the mid 1980’s and from the northern Pennines in 2006 and should have been a wake up call. Now once again in 2015 the harrier has also been taken out  from England’s core breeding area in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, and seemingly there is little anyone can do about what has taken place.

Significantly a prediction made in 2007 by the United Utilities Bowland estate manager, warned that if gamekeepers were ever returned to the United Utilities estate he managed the hen harrier would disappear within one year from this last English refuge. The fact that it took a little longer for this prediction to come true is immaterial, as United Utilities approved the return of gamekeepers together with several shooting syndicates onto their Forest of Bowland estate; big mistake.

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Hen Harrier being satellite Tagged. At nearly £3000 each they are an expensive item of kit to keep losing as well as the harrier they had been attached to.

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Looking west from Roeburndale moor towards the river Lune once the home of at least 3 pairs of hen harrier



7 comments to The Hen Harrier, talking a load of old Waddell.

  • Reading the latest news on the Hen Harrier saddens me.The Laws and the legislation in place to protect and preserve the Hen Harrier and yet still after all these years after debates,demonstrations and campaigns the Hen Harrier is now extinct in England.

    The People in authority,people representing charities and other active groups who were in a position to take action and preserve and protect the Hen Harrier have in my conclusion failed.The UU manager failed by allowing gamekeepers to return to a site he managed and Mr Richard Benyon fails to realise the importance of controlled measures to allow Hen Harriers to breed on moorland estates,when he remarks Buzzards are a threat!

    Mr Benyon the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries,who is also in charge of Defra and a close friend of our GREEN THINKING Prime Minister and Natural England, have all failed by allowing the Hen Harrier to become extinct in England.

    This is not something to be proud about in my assumption,it is an embarrassment and egg on the faces to people who were the powers at be.

    Editor,s Comment. Mark thank you very much for your important comments. The more people who raise their voices about what has been allowed to take place throughout England’s uplands the better.

  • paul williams

    Is this how…Bio Die versity should read???

  • paul williams

    United Utilities…you certainly know how to pass the book. RSPB…you have brought in the Circus…but what can you conjure up for this injustice ??? Paul Williams..NWRPG Member.

  • thomas carroll

    There are two elderly gentlemen that have monitored Hen Harriers in the Forest of Bowland for a long time now. My advice to you both is…If want to see Harriers fly you need to let go of the things that weigh you down!

  • Mark Adams

    Maybe the NWRPG should change tack next season. Instead of looking for what is not there, they should watch the gamekeepers and their very close Bowland friends!

  • Mark Adams

    W.A.R.P. War Against Raptor Persecutors. Roll on next season.

  • paul williams

    Further incitement to persecute the hen harrier in Ireland
    Following on from the controversy in July when an Irish council leader in Limerick called for ‘open season’ on hen harriers (see here), another group in