Hen Harrier – A critical situation with no answers.

[singlepic id=235 w=176 h=188 float=left]Raptor Politics is very disappointing to learn from Roy Dennis there was no satellite transmissions from the tagged hen harrier Tanar on the 17th or 20th June. Roy has stated the last transmission was on 14th June- when activity counter was showing live status on the last transmission of the session at 6.14pm.  There were no transmissions on 17th or 20th June – and still none since – so she has disappeared. Such a clear-cut loss suggests she has been killed.  On 12th June, the early morning locations showed Tanar had roosted overnight somewhere in the Water of Avens catchment. On June 14th she was in Glen Esk early morning and north of Glen Dye in the afternoon. The loss has been reported to the Grampian Wildlife Crime Officer but there are no clear leads to what happened. This means that two of the brood of three chicks which were ringed and satellite tagged on the Glen Tanar estate last year have both now been lost.

Tanar was a young female hen harrier in a nest of three chicks at Glentanar, Deeside, Aberdeenshire. She was ringed FP67025 on 29/6/10 and satellite tag 51894 was fitted by Roy Dennis and Colin McLean.

The hen harrier in England is now regarded as critically endangered. Last year there were only six successful nests recorded throughout the whole of England. This year the situation is much worst with figures for productive harrier nesting territories in England significantly reduced. The single nest in the English Lake District was lost after being washed out by heavy rain. The nest in the Goyt Valley in Derbyshire along with the adult female was found destroyed earlier in the year. There may have been one additional active nest in the North East of England but it is not clear if this site was productive or not. The position in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland is much worst this year with only six active nests recorded in the spring compared to the ten nests found last year. If reports we are hearing are to be believed only four nests have survived so far this year each containing reduced brood sizes, despite being a high vole year.

Terry Pickford a spokesperson for the North West Raptor Protection Group, founded in 1967, claims if the present level of harrier persecution on England’s uplands is not halted immediately the hen harrier will almost certainly be lost completely within the next few years. Mr. Pickford also states deterrents in place designed to deter those involved in raptor persecution are proving totally ineffective when you consider the ludicrously low penalties handed down by many courts for serious wildlife crimes today. Mr. Pickford points to another problem which he feels requires urgent attention. In two recent court cases involving birds of prey, the inequality of penalties was clearly demonstarted.

  • In June 2011 North East Derbyshire & Dales Magistrates Court sentenced Mr.Glen Brown, gamekeeper to 100 hours unpaid community service after being convicted of seven offences under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981.
  • On 5 November 2010, a well-known falconer and bird of prey breeder Paul Hill was sentenced to a community order of 300 hours unpaid work for selling two immature goshawks he had bred in captivity without the Article 10 Certification.

When you consider that Brown could have been sentenced to 6 months in prison and additionally ordered to pay a minimum fine of £5000 for the more serious offences he committed, where is the logic in the higher penalty handed down to Mr.Hill? There is also a rumor that Brown will now be appealing against his sentence.

4 comments to Hen Harrier – A critical situation with no answers.

  • All this bad news is hard to bear. What can we do??? I feel so powerless. It’s almost too late ——- it may already be too late. What can we do???

    • Barry

      Keith, I doubt very much without a change in the law banning grouse shooting altogether anything can be done to reverse the present scandalous situation. The shooting estates have decided they want no harriers on their property to interfere with the numbers of grouse raised for shooting . Even if the few harriers that remain produce large broods of young each season, the chances of these birds reaching breeding maturity are slim as the current situation has shown. It is almost certain many harriers are now being taken out in the winter months. This is why less adult birds are returning to breed in locations like the Forest of Bowland each spring.

    • Dave Morrison

      I would just like to say well done on making everyone aware on the current situation regarding englands birds of prey. I monitor around 9 Peregrine sites here in London and as far as I am aware,persecution has not yet arrived.

      I am under no illusions though, it will come one day. Peregrines are expanding incredibly, and it is getting harder and harder to keep sites low key and unpublicised due to the sites they hold territory on. Keep up the good work,
      Regards, Dave Morrison

  • John Miles

    You will see that further species are being added to this radio tagging such as Short eared Owl and Goshawk. How long will these species be alive to justify the cost of 3000 pounds plus for each unit? We should perhaps keep a close eye at E Bay to see if such second hand equipment is being sold by the estates which actually removed the birds in the first place!!