Langholm harrier ‘Blue’ drops off the radar

Hen-Harrier-1 avico ltdAs predicted, at least one of the young hen harriers satellite-tagged at Langholm this year has not survived long enough to see out the end of October.

Blue’s sat tag signal has ‘ceased to transmit’, which we all know translates as ‘this bird has probably been illegally killed’.

Is anyone surprised? No.

Will we ever learn where, exactly, this tag stopped transmitting? No.

Will anyone ever be brought to justice for killing him? No.

Will the game-shooting industry continue to deny any involvement? Yes.

Well done Cat Barlow for putting the information out in the public domain. Here’s what she wrote on her Making the Most of Moorlands blog:

Tuesday 22nd October 2013 – 

Sad, sad news .. we have serious concerns about Blue (the young male Hen Harrier satellite tagged at Langholm this summer). Blue’s satellite tag signal has ceased to transmit. The signal ended suddenly, without indication in the data of why it should do so. The most likely explanation is illegal persecution. There are other possible explanations, such as a natural death or some kind of tag failure but they are considerably less likely. The matter is now in the hands of the police.  

16 Responses to “Langholm harrier ‘Blue’ drops off the radar”

  1. October 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    What a terrible shame, so sad….

  2. October 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    The utter predictability of this event is deeply depressing.

  3. 3 Soph Notley Wells
    October 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Just sigh… I had a heated ‘discussion’ the other day with a couple of friends who cull magpie and I looked further into General licenses etc and I’m truly shocked at how they can be used! I know this doesn’t fall under the same category, but the whole attitude of people involved in control of unwelcome birds etc is shocking. Who are we as humans to judge which creatures are nasty or a problem? It’s just all so twisted…. :-( Moreover, a lot of the issues with Magpies numbers must have come about as a direct result of persecuting raptors?

  4. October 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Thing is there will by necessity be a required limit on information made public ‘in case there is a criminal prosecution, and information endangers the right to a fair trial.’ Aye, well – that’ll be the case and the sad truth for Blue and the rest of his species. :-(

  5. 5 Ian g
    October 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    All. The hard work put in by the project team, now this , such a shame

  6. 6 Martin Thomas
    October 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    This is indeed deeply depressing news. Can you post the last known location of the bird please? It would be very interesting to know whether Blue was close to any known ‘hunting’ grounds.

  7. 7 Circus maxima
    October 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Where had Blue been?

  8. 8 Ian Rubery
    October 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Is there any data giving last location?

  9. 9 Marco McGinty
    October 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    The day before the transmitter “stopped working”, the bird was in Shropshire. There’s quite a bit of pheasant shooting in this county and on the border with Wales, where you have more pheasant shooting along with some grouse moors.

    • 10 sh23363
      October 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Question 1 – who pays for the satellite tag?
      Question 2 – who owns the data?
      Question 3 – why can’t locations be released?
      These may be rhetorical questions but if anyone knows the answers please enlighten us.

  10. October 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Surely we shouldn’t speculate persecution until we have some firm evidence. Everyone knows that young raptors suffer an extremely high natural mortality rate in their first year.
    Also whose to say that we may potentially lose all 4 satellite tagged harriers and that the remaining 6 non-tagged birds from Langholm all survive.
    We need more information on this very unfortunate young hen harrier.

  11. 14 Bonxie
    October 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Its not routine for RSPB to pass all raptor deaths to the police or even all harrier deaths unless there is a good reason, this would be a complete waste of a small resouce otherwise

  12. 15 Merlin
    October 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Mike makes a valid point, there is high mortality rates in young Raptors, However the high mortality rates are recorded from species that are established, were the juveniles struggle to find vacant territories capable of sustaining them, you only have to look at the recovery rate of the Sparrowhawk in the eighties or of the Buzzard in more recent times to realise that if there is suitable territory and more importantly if they are left alone then juvenile mortality is negligible. It would be nice to know the basic circumstances regarding this incident so that at least the Countryside Alliance can start to formulate some theories about exploding Niobium factories, poison Gas Clouds or marauding Badgers

  13. 16 Marco McGinty
    January 3, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Some say no news is good news, but where raptor persecution is concerned this is not necessarily the case. I am sincerely hoping that this will not be another case that is swept under the carpet to appease the shooting industry, and to further their wild, reckless (and incorrect) claims that persecution is on the decline.

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