The Hen Harrier: Talking a load of old Waddell

Despite a great deal of hard work and effort to conserve and protect our native English hen harriers, involving 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. Bring on Mark Avery’s next e-petition. In the last 9 months the grouse shooting community 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.

Hen Harrier Recovery Project 02-1

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 in the Forest of Bowland, 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, at least 20 fertile hen harrier eggs were destroyed after going cold, following the females desertion of each nest.


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 predictably 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 systematic persecution. In the Forest of Bowland for example, numbers of viable territories have been reduced from 19 to just 2 occupies sites. Territories in the northern Pennines have been similarly wiped out on red grouse moorland. Perhaps Mr. Waddell would like to explain 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 ludicrous and implausible excuses, one after another, anything but the truth.


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


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 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 7 hen harriers 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 always there, following the loss of harriers from Bowland in the mid 1980’s and in the northern Pennines in 2006 should have been a wake up call. Now once again in 2015 harriers have been 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. Isn’t it time for the Westminster government to step in and take firm action?

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 their 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, a mistake the company may come to regret.


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.


Looking west from Roeburndale moor towards the river Lune once the home of at least 3 pairs of hen harrier, the same moor where one of last year’s tagged hen harrier disappeared


Raptor Persecution a video update: A symbol of a feudal system of raptor management in the 21st Century.


The Final Solution, a video capture of most Forest of Bowland peregrine territories now abandoned following their systematic persecution.



3 comments to The Hen Harrier: Talking a load of old Waddell

  • Kevin moore

    So the game keepers wipe out the peregrine from bowland, and then they blame the peregrine for wiping out the Hen harrier, this article must be filed in the “you could not make it up” bracket.

    Editor’s Comment Not too long ago, one of Bowland’s most powerful estate owners was telling the government if the CRoW Act was brought in allowing pubic access to their estates, this would destroy all the hen harriers. One excuse after another. The real issue here was the fact that once CRoW became Law, the illegal killing could then be clearly identified on moorland previously out of bounds to the public. This is now what has happened and estates, their owners and gamekeepers, have no where else to hide this criminal activity; they may now blame aliens instead!

  • Skydancer

    Is it not time to stop all the talking with these people on birds of prey? All this talk of the rspb “working with landowners and shooting syndicates “to protect birds of prey is obviously not working, the comments Mr waddel has made only go to show that these people are laughing at them .

  • Adam L

    As well as Hen harriers being tagged, I’d like to see game keepers being tagged if a Harrier goes missing on the land they work on,that’s quite reasonable. When was it that the United Utilities allowed game keepers back on to Bowland could you please tell me? What a dreadfully accurate prediction the former estate manager made.He certainly knows what most game keepers are like. Nonsense from Waddle, how big does he think a Peregrine is!? Why not blame the Harrier killings on The Beast of Bowland Moor – a Saber toothed flying Hedgehog, or something a bit more Believable like that?