What an absolute privilege it was to be part of the 570-strong crowd at Derwent Water today for the inaugural Hen Harrier Day. 570 people, from Inverness to the Isle of Wight, who wouldn’t even let ex-Hurricane Bertha stop them from coming out to stand together and say they’d had enough of illegal hen harrier persecution. Strong, resolute and defiant; even if the dam’s wall had burst they’d still have stood firm. The cheers and applause that greeted Chris Packham’s closing statement, “We will win“, could probably be heard throughout the Dark Peak. Long may it resonate.
That guy in the blue coat holding up his phone (below) – that’s Barry Gardiner MP, the Shadow Environment Minister.
The woman in the blue coat (below) – that’s Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, who appeared to be recording the speeches – perhaps the MA are getting a bit jittery?
“We will win”
Of course, illegal hen harrier persecution isn’t restricted to driven grouse moors in England. Here’s a quick overview of the issue in Scotland (info from the 2011 Hen Harrier Conservation Framework & the 2010 national survey):
- The potential national hen harrier population in Scotland is estimated (conservatively) to be within the range 1467-1790 pairs.
- The current national hen harrier population in Scotland as recorded during the most recent (2010) national survey is 505 pairs, more than a 20% decline from the numbers recorded during the 2004 national survey.
- In Scotland, the hen harrier has a favourable conservation status in only five of 20 regions.
- Two main constraints were identified: illegal persecution, and in one region, prey shortages.
- The species is particularly unsuccessful in the Central Highlands, Cairngorm Massif, Northeast Glens, Western Southern Uplands and the Border Hills. There is strong evidence in these grouse moor regions that illegal persecution is causing the failure of a majority of breeding attempts.
Why not join 13,000 other voices and sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
Media coverage of Hen Harrier Day in the Peak District:
Read Mark Avery’s take on the day here
Read what Guy Shorrock (RSPB Investigations) had to say here
A blog about the event from Alan Davies (The Biggest Twitch) here
Findlay Wilde’s blog about the day here
Article on Birdwatch website here
A blog about the event by Stewart Abbott here
A blog about the event by Ginny Battson here
Hen Harrier Day in pictures on RSPB Skydancer blog here
Watch Mark Avery & Chris Packham deliver their speeches (filmed by Stephen Cummings aka @TheBaldIbis) here
A video from the day, filmed and produced by Chris Packham’s ‘team’ here