Whilst we wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and a very prosperous New Year, we would remind everyone that persecution remains the overriding factor affecting the health and well-being of so called ‘protected’ birds of prey on moorland in England where Red Grouse are shot for sport. So bad is the current situation on grouse moors one species in particular, the Hen Harrier, failed to successfully breed on any Red Grouse moor in England this year.
Within one year of capture of this rare image taken in the Forest of Bowland in 2008 by Terry Pickford, the nesting ledge which had been used by the same pair of Peregrines for at least fourteen season was destroyed by estate staff. Because the stream gully only had capacity to hold a single nesting ledge this territory is now unlikely to be reoccupied by Peregrines in the future.
The Peregrine is also under pressure on most if not all grouse moors throughout northern England’s uplands resulting from systematic persecution along with the wilful destruction of nesting sites. Since 2010 the North West Raptor Group have recorded no less than 7 historic Peregrine nesting ledges which have each been obliterated in the Forest of Bowland making their future use an impossible.
Former Bowland Peregrine quarry nesting site located along the Lune Valley showing tons of stone purposely dislodged now resting at the base of the former nesting ledge. A second Peregrine site containing eggs was also destroyed this year after the site owner tipped thousands of tons of rocks and stone below the nesting cliff.
We are advised that although two Peregrine nesting attempts were recorded in Bowland this year, we are not surprised to learn both attempts failed, thus resulting in the Forest of Bowland becoming England’s first moorland raptor free zone. We expect other moorland regions in northern England will quickly follow the raptor zero status of the Forest of Bowland, as our government appear to be more interested in the licensed removal of protected wildlife species from the environment rather than protecting them.
The more appropriate replacement sign for the Forest of Bowland, classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but without much natural wildlife other than gamebirds.
The present appalling situation that exists on Red Grouse moors in northern England is unlikely to change for the better any time soon. The collective comments made by Tory MP’s that spoke at the debate to ban driven grouse shooting in England held at Westminster on 31st October really dictated the future- there will be no change in attitudes towards the Hen Harrier and Peregrine by the shooting estates. In our view the lack of any proactive proposals by MP’s which would help return the Hen Harrier back onto moorland where Red Grouse are shot highlights its own disappointing story.
The locations where in 2014 both Skye and Hope two Bowland satellite tagged Hen Harrier disappeared, undoubtedly having been shot and their satellite tags destroyed.
Brood meddling proposed by Defra (the Government) which intends to release Hen Harriers into southern England is nothing more than a underhanded strategy to avoid completely tackling the reason for the disappearance of Hen Harriers from Red Grouse moors in our country. Because our Government is unwilling or unable to bring an end to the illegal killing of Hen Harriers by gamekeepers on England’s uplands, instead they have embarked upon a strategy which is acceptable to game managers and their gamekeepers. Many Hen Harriers that may be produced and released into the wild under the Defra proposals in the future, will almost certainly find their way back north onto Grouse moors where they are very likely to disappear, most likely shot.
Peregrine ground nest located on keepered moorland in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland. It appears crystals of ice had been placed on top of each eggs to kill each developing embryo before the chicks had a chance to hatch. There is now no doubt Peregrines are under as much pressure as the Hen Harrier on grouse moors in England.