The time to save the hen harrier is now, says RSPB


The RSPB is today urging Defra to publish the workable elements of the Hen Harrier Action Plan, which the Society believes could bring about the recovery of one of England’s most beleaguered birds of prey.

However, the RSPB is also highlighting its rejection of one point of the six-point plan, known as brood management, as the Society believes that immediate removal of chicks from the wild and rearing them in aviaries is unacceptable and legally ambiguous. As the RSPB’s position on this issue has been widely misrepresented, the RSPB’s full view is set out here.

Hen Harrier

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s Conservation Director. He said: “The hen harrier is one of our most iconic birds of prey, but it is currently in danger of being lost from England and it needs urgent action to save it. Defra has worked hard with the shooting industry and conservation groups to produce a Hen Harrier Action Plan, and we believe that the workable parts of this plan must be published and implemented now to help save this bird of prey. We think the more contentious elements, for which there a plethora of unanswered questions, should go for public consultation, while the rest of the plan fulfils its purpose of protecting harriers.”

The RSPB believes that brood management is a distraction, taking emphasis and resources away from tackling illegal killing. Martin Harper firmly added: “Brood management is worth considering once the hen harrier has returned to the hills and moors of England.  But to do it early could see young birds released to their deaths.

The Society has no confidence that released birds will be allowed to fly free from harm. It is a sad reality that illegal killing of birds of prey continues, often linked by those with an interest in shooting. The evidence is real and compelling – gamekeepers continue to be convicted for the illegal persecution of birds of prey and there is a strong association between raptor persecution and grouse moor management [note 2]. The RSPB will have no part of a project that could put a species at risk.

Martin Harper added: “We recognise that brood management has become a totemic issue for the shooting community, and that some have chosen to use strong-arm tactics against the RSPB. We reject the industry’s claim that only by removing chicks from nests will gamekeepers and shooting estates accept the plan. Aggressive and intransigent campaigning by the shooting sector is threatening to derail the plan, consign hen harriers to further years of persecution and ride roughshod across attempts to work with progressive voices in the industry.

“Ministers are accountable for preventing the human-induced extinction of species, and the illegal persecution of the hen harrier is the main reason for this bird’s desperate plight. It surely makes sense to publish elements of the plan which has agreement. We’re urging Government to recognise the urgency of this situation and implement a plan to save the harrier, so that hen harriers can once again be a regular feature of the skies above our moors.”

8 comments to The time to save the hen harrier is now, says RSPB

  • ian thor

    time to save this bird was years ago before the situation got so critical

  • paul williams

    If the Hen Harrier is to saved…They obviously need to be tracked with a lot more efficiency than is in place now!…Was there a after-care program in place to monitor their movement? If so, how many fieldworkers were given this task? Why did the Harriers and their tags disappear? ….Not enough eyes….I think it is time for everyone to see…Eye-to-eye..

  • F Freyer

    The RSPB wants to own the space and wont allow that the G&WCT & DEfra might actually be representing a sensible way forwards with regards to HH management.
    They would rather represent all involved in any form of shooting as the bad guys in the hope that their high profile prosecutions and media coverage of the occasional wrong un will keep the donations rolling in.
    Its time they stepped up to the plate, reclaimed their society from the fund raising spin doctors and got down to some real world conservation.
    I don’t carry any particular torch for Beefy or the G&WCT trust but its the RSPB that are out of step.

  • paul williams

    Why does the RSPB distrust the North West Raptor Protection Group..And why?

    Editor’s Comment. We understand its because the NWRPG consistently inform the public of the true reality of what is taking place on red grouse moors, which the RSPB can do nothing about. It is important to mention here that it was the NWRPG who were invited to RSPB headquarters in the late 1970’s to brief senior RSPB staff about the widespread persecution of raptors taking place in Lancashire’s the Forest of Bowland. At the close of the meeting the group were informed the RSPB would bring the situation under control within just 5 year. That was over 40 years ago. Well as we now know the situation today in Bowland is much much worst than it was all those years ago. So the answer is silence the messenger and the problem will disappear or so the Society thought!!!! If anyone has any doubts, look what happened to Hope and Sky the two Bowland tagged Hen Harriers, vanished within just 3 miles of their natal nesting territories after fledging. Peregrines in Bowland have dropped from 18 pairs down to just a single successful pair this year since 2010.

  • Jeff

    I note the propaganda-ist and apologist for raptor persecution who calls himself “Monro” has been using his standard approach of copying and pasting out-of-context information he finds using Google has been using this tactic with Raptor Politics recently. In particular the relationship between NWRPG and other interested parties to justify his opinions.

  • Terry Pickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

    Jeff, can you please clarify where someone called Monro comes into the equation please, I am unable to find any reference to such a person? I am also sure other readers will be just a confused.

  • Jeff

    In the comments section on the Telegraph’s article

    “Of course, one of the major problems with hen harriers establishing themselves in England, apart from foxes, corvids, eagle owls, buzzards, ravens, goshawks, badgers, wind farms, is disturbance by ramblers, mountain bikers, quad bikes, egg collectors, cattle, sheep.

    And then they have to contend with disturbance from the people supposed to be protecting them, as happened to eagle owl nests recently:

    ‘Placing the politics into perspective, the only evidence available supports what we have always believed, occupied Eagle Owl nests on the United Utilities estate were only disturbed by those tasked with their protection and no one else .’…”

    And repeated further down the thread:

    “politicized organization trotting out the dreary piffle that its masters wanted to hear in the bunkered twilight of the previous new old labour Brown administration

    Raptor politics suggest that it is often the nest monitors who disturb the protected bird.

    ‘Placing the politics into perspective, the only evidence available supports what we have always believed, occupied Eagle Owl nests on the United Utilities estate were only disturbed by those tasked with their protection and no one else .’

    Even the JNCC report 441, written under the previous government, that started off all this nonsense contains a massive caveat:” etc

    He’s also started appearing on the Guardian (e.g. ) using the name “Monrover” and Mark Avery’s site with his nonsense but this is the first time I’ve seen him using Raptor Politics comments out of context.
    I wouldn’t waste my time with him though; I think he’s a diversionary tactic.

  • paul williams

    Last nights BBC country file on hen harriers??????