Message to Mark Avery from Terry Pickford, no mention of the Forest of Bowland Tragedy, why?
Mark, I was so disappointed that during your interview above with Chris Packham this week, although you highlighted the disappearance of many, but not all, raptors from the Yorkshire dales, the north York moors and the Peak District, you totally omitted to mention the unprecedented disappearance of all Hen Harriers and Peregrines as breeding species from the Forest of Bowland. Was there an underlying reason for choosing not to mention Bowland and the complete loss of these two breeding species which of course have now resulted in Bowland becoming England’s first moorland ‘native raptor breeding free zone’?
You are not alone in choosing not to highlight the disappearance of these protected species missing from the Forest of Bowland. The RSPB are none too eager to talk about what has taken place in Bowland either, but that is perhaps understandable as the Society had been paid to protect these birds for many years by United Utilities.
Following the publication of an article I wrote in 2014 in which I highlighted the unprecedented disappearance of Peregrines from the Forest of Bowland Graham Jones, the RSPB’s North West Regional Conservation Officer, submitted an explanation published in the same magazine two months later. These are the exact words Graham used to try and explain the Peregrine losses, ” The RSPB acknowledge that the Peregrine population in Bowland is at a concerning level. There are a number of factors that can affect Peregrine breeding success including weather, food availability, infertility, predation and illegal persecution. Determining a specific cause can be difficult.” Graham’s explanation was very interesting but at the same time was certainly misleading. Hindsight is a great thing; when the RSPB had to explain the disappearance of Sky and Hope the 2 Bowland satellite tagged Hen Harriers in 2014, followed by the disappearance of the 4 male Hen Harriers from Bowland in 2015, none of the reasons Graham Jones mentions above for Peregrine losses were even mentioned in relation to the lost Hen Harriers, except for the last one ‘Persecution.’
Making a claim that several possible scenarios may have resulted in the loss from Bowland of all Peregrines, but then strongly hinting at a single scenario for Hen Harrier losses from the same moorland region, i.e., their persecution seems illogical and contradictory, after all both species experience the same weather conditions, food availability, infertility, predation and last but not least persecution. These are the reasons why I think you made an error by omitting to mention the Forest of Bowland in your latest interview with Chris Packham.