What a disgrace it is to learn that this magnificent bird of prey is till declining due to the illegal activities of a number of wealthy landowners and their staff. Despite the law and the difficulties in policing large tracts of grouse moor these people are raising the preverbial two fingers to the public, and wilfully disturbing these birds at the nest or worse still destroying the birds themselves. Despite intensive research proving that correct management techniques can reduce the impact of predators on Red Grouse numbers these powerful people ignore the facts and carry on their medieval attitude.
It is so embarrassing when conservationists try elsewhere in the World to encourage the management and protection of globally threatened species. How can we be taken seriously when this barbaric behaviour takes place in what we would consider a civilised country.
The Scottish Assembly is taking some very positive action against landowners who continue to persecute raptors and ignore the law and we might do well to follow their example in England. In Wales there does not seem to be a problem with Hen Harrier numbers stable. Many of these English landowners take public money in the form of agri-environment payments but should these not be withdrawn whilst this persecution goes on?
Better still the prosecution of a high profile landowner might set an example to others. With Natural England and the RSPB very active in the Northern moors why has nobody been caught?
It is true that a minority of grouse moor owners are working with bodies like the RSPB to show how raptors can be tolerated on such estates. Unless something is done very quickly then Hen Harriers will once again be rendered extinct as a breeding species in England.
(photo by Ian Spence)