It is well known that since licenses allowing the North West Raptor Group to monitor Peregrines and their persecution in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland were withheld in 2010 by Natural England, successful Peregrine territories in this moorland region, estimated at 18, have all been found abandoned. Natural England the Governments Wildlife Advisor are saying very little if anything about this unfolding tragedy.
Last week a Freedom of information request was submitted to Natural England by Terry Pickford in the hope Natural England would come clean about the loss of so many Peregrines from this moorland region in such a short time scale.
A second Bowland Peregrine territory abandoned after several consecutive breeding attempts where clutches of eggs had being removed. In 2015 at the same breeding site both falcons mysteriously disappeared in the spring leaving an empty nesting scrape
The request submitted by Terry asked Natural England to provide details of the number of successful breeding sites in the Forest of Bowland between 2011-2016, details of which are annually contained within licence returns provided to the BTO and Natural England by licence holders. Natural England’s curious refusal to provide the detail asked for is also attached,
Terry Pickford 16 January 2017
Dear Natural England,
Can Natural England, in consultation with their licensing agent the BTO, confirm the number of successful peregrine territory recorded within licence returns received by both Natural England and the BTO for each of the private shooting estates in the Forest of Bowland between 2011 – 2016?
I am aware there were 2 nesting attempts made in the Forest of Bowland during 2016 but I am not aware either of these attempts were successful.
Terry R. Pickford
Below is the reply received this morning by Terry’s in response to his Freedom of Information request sent to Natural England, Can you believe Natural England’s excuse for refusing to supply any detail at all? The question posed is hypothetical?
Natural England’s Reply
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your email below.
The question posed is hypothetical and we do not respond to such requests, we can only determine an application based on the facts in the actual documentation. However, we are aware of the long running situation and your previous communication with both Ian Carter and the BTO and particular the offers made to consider any evidence of failed monitoring in the area (missed nest sites) offered by yourself, and/or evidence of improved relations between persons monitoring birds in that area.
As far as we are aware we have not received either. Unless there is evidence offered then we are unlikely to change our view of the situation.
Science, Education and Conservation Wildlife Licensing
Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH
Telephone: 020802 61089
Terry points out he felt Mark Avery’s petition was ambushed by the Tory shooting aristocracy during the debate dominated by biased Conservative MP’s who disregarded the ongoing persecution of Hen Harriers on red grouse moorland completely.
As a result of this one sided position demonstrated by all Tory MP’s who took part the debate, in Terry’s opinion moorland gamekeepers have now been given the green light to manage so called ‘protected raptors’ on moorland where they are employed with impunity (nothing much changed then?). Terry also believes it is now very likely the Peregrine will disappear from moorland where red grouse are shot entirely sooner rather than later. He also thinks the DEFRA Lack of Action Plan to relocate Hen Harriers to the south of England will end badly, as he believes a bulk of these birds will relocate back to England’s northern upland where they will most likely disappear after being shot.
Terry asks the question, why did DEFRA decide not to release Hen Harriers to moorland regions like the north York moors or in the Forest of Bowland in the first place, the answer is all too obvious? Why risk releasing any Hen Harriers without fixing the problem posed by persecution first?
Terry ended by highlighting his continued frustration at Natural England and the BTO’s unwillingness to reinstate licenses allowing the North West Raptor Protection Group to monitor and protect potential Peregrine nests in the Forest of Bowland. Beginning in 2010 Peregrines throughout the Forest of Bowland began to disappear, and by 2016 Terry was aware eighteen pairs of Peregrines had disappeared completely leaving their former nesting territories throughout the Forest of Bowland abandoned. Why wasn't something done by the Government to prevent this happening in the first place we ask?
Group licenses held between 1974 – 2010 for use in Bowland were withheld by Natural England in 2010 after the group was advised others were now undertaking this work. On the instruction of Natural England the BTO wrote to Terry explaining that if licenses were reinstated to the NWRPG - this would result in duplication of nest visits and cause unnecessary disturbance to nesting Peregrines. Really, how could this happen when Terry had already pointed out something Natural England was already aware of, there were no longer any active Peregrine nests to visit or disturb anywhere in the Forest of Bowland.
Taking these facts into account Terry is certain the real reason for Natural England's decision to withhold licenses in 2010 was to prevent estate embarrassment and protect shooting interests after Terry had published via social media details of widespread raptor persecution taking place throughout the Forest of Bowland.