Four of this year’s English tagged hen harriers have suprisingly each disappeared

It comes as no surprise that four hen harrier chicks fitted with satellite tags this year  have each disappeared after fledging; it is being claimed by the RSPB the birds each vanished under suspicious circumstances. What can be more suspicious when recent history has clearly demonstrated that hen harriers associated moorland used for Driven Grouse Shooting, in particular in the Forest of Bowland, many of these birds have vanished within weeks of fledging.

We learned today of the disappearance of Thor the fourth tagged harrier to disappear this year having successfully fledging from nests in England. For several months Thor had remained within his natal territory after fledging in June from a nest on the United Utilities estate.  On the 3 October Thor after migrating across the estate boundary  the signal from his satellite transmitter mysteriously stopped working over the Goodber Common, north of the Salter Track. This is the same area where in 2014 both Skye and Hope two satellite tagged hen harriers had also vanished under very suspicious circumstances.

Three additional satellite tagged hen harriers each vanished this year. The three tagged hen harriers reported as missing after fledging from nests this year are (1) Hilma, missing 8 August Nr. Wooler, Northumberland on land managed for driven grouse shooting. (2) Octavia, missing 26 August on a privately owned grouse moor near Sheffield. (3) Heulwen, 29 August near the Ruabon grouse moor in north Wales.

It is important to remind our readers that in 2014 Sky and Hope after both birds had been fitted with satellite tags disappeared presumed to have been shot on separate estates located adjacent to the United utilities estate within weeks of fledging. In 2015  four adult male harriers each servicing nests containing eggs on the United Utilities Estate in Bowland each disappeared after leaving their occupied territories to forage for food on adjacent estates where driven grouse shooting takes place.

The final question is, what has now happened to all the ten hen harrier chicks which successfully fledged from the United Utilities estate this year, but had not been fitted with satellite tag?

We believe it is very doubtful that very many, if any, of these birds will now be alive, and because satellite tags were not fitted to these additional harriers before leaving their nests, sadly it will be impossible for anyone to uncover the truth one way or the other, an opportunity missed.


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