Now is the time for action if we are to save the Hen Harrier before it is too late. More articles & scientific papers seem to fall on deaf ears.

How many more articles and scientific papers are going to be written about the loss of Hen Harriers from our moorlands? Here is yet another one, this time from from North East Scotland – ‘The past, current and potential status of breeding Hen Harriers in North-east Scotland’ by Graham Rebecca, Brian Cosnette, Jim Craib, Alistair Duncan, Brian Etheridge, Ian Francis, Jon Hardey, Alastair Pout and Logan Steele. Printed in the February edition of British Birds This article claims the area should have at least 100 pairs but numbers have fallen from 20+ to 5+. No surprise there then. There is even a swing at Scottish Natural Heritage for not providing  one important moorland habitat with a Special Protection Area ( SPA) classification! A double ‘No surprise there then’.
This heather habitat classified as an SPA,destroyed deliberately to prevent Hen Harriers breeding. So an SPA classification for our moorlands does not automatically result in more Hen Harriers.

Everyone associated with conservation know the answers but again no action by governments or NGOs, very soon it will be too late to do anything for the beleaguered Hen Harrier. The classic this week was on the ‘One Show’ or not, last night [2nd February] 40 days and 40 nights since the flooding of Hebden Bridge. No mention of any mismanagement of the land above the town, even though last nights show featured a clip of deep peat that had been washed down from the Red Grouse moor; not surprisingly Natural England would not prosecute! Where were all the people who had their homes flooded, for a first or second time? No banging on the drum what a missed opportunity, instead the show went over to Pickering to see a scheme there which claimed to have stopped a flood!


Deliberate burning of heather habits is widespread in the uplands of both northern England and in the Highlands of Scotland. Far too often burning in the spring takes place when Hen Harriers are either building nests or laying their eggs. So much for an SPA classification!

Both these events are connected by a minority of people and their land use which it seems no one seems to want to stop! A recent petition to stop ‘driven’ Red Grouse shooting only claimed 1/3 of the votes it needed to get a parliamentary debate! An RSPB reserve saved 7000 homes from flooding in 2014 but still the advert we see on TV is ‘Give Nature a home’ not ‘We saved your home from flooding now save wildlife’!

Is it now time for an RSPB advert depicting the damage caused to the uplands due to Red Grouse mismanagement? If the RSPB can pay for a weak and flat advert, then surely they can pay for one which tells the public the whole story why so many homes were flooded in other areas and why joining the society will protect their homes in the future and help to protect more wildlife like the Hen Harrier. More harriers in the uplands means less flooding downstream! The title of the advert could be ‘Give our Hen Harriers a home and save your home at the same time.

3 comments to Now is the time for action if we are to save the Hen Harrier before it is too late. More articles & scientific papers seem to fall on deaf ears.

  • Judy

    Do not let those with a greed for money, take life from those that were born free.

  • Northern Diver

    There are two recent articles about grouse moors and hen harriers in the Craven Herald lauding the praises of grouse moors and the Moorland Association. [Use Craven Herald’s search box for Amanda Anderson].

    Please can those of you with more knowledge than me consider writing or posting a response online? Otherwise, the shooting estates are getting away with promoting themselves to the general public as guardians of biodiversity and good land management.

    The Johnston Press, who own many local newspapers, seem very pro-game shooting. I’m just afraid that the truth is being kept from the public by this biased media propaganda.

  • This is without doubt a damning report with regards to the severe decline of breeding harriers in NES. As most people will be aware Angus has suffered a similar fate but on a much smaller scale.

    With the present day multitude of perils facing the harrier e.g. persecution, fox predation, windfarms, habitat loss, etc surely the time has come to try and thrash out some kind of common sense compromise with regards to harriers and managed grouse moors.

    I hope that my prediction is wrong but failure to end this long standing conservation stalemate/conflict could see harrier numbers falling further?