Groups call for an end to the vilification of the hen harrier

hen-harrier Gordon LangsburyBirdWatch Ireland and the Irish Raptor Study Group have joined forces to call for an end to the “continuing vilification” of the hen harrier.

These conservation groups say they are deeply concerned over mounting pressures from the farming community to lift a ban on afforestation within the designated Special Protection Area (SPA) network for hen harriers.

They said: “Recent comments by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Tom Hayes, indicated support for further afforestation in these protected areas, which would be an environmental disaster and have a devastating effect on the national hen harrier population, which is already in decline“.

Full story in the Irish Examiner here.

A recent parliamentary question and answer session on this subject can be read here.

Last year, Councillor John Sheahan of Limerick County Council caused public uproar when he called for ‘open season’ on hen harriers if restrictions in Hen Harrier SPAs were not lifted (see here).

The hen harrier is a species of high conservation concern in Ireland (just as it is elsewhere in the UK) and is fully protected under regional, national and international legislation.

Hen harrier photograph by Gordon Langsbury


7 Responses to “Groups call for an end to the vilification of the hen harrier”

  1. 1 Denise Jones
    December 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Leave the ban where it is these birds have a right to live in peace, it’s disgusting to shoot them LEAVE THEM ALONE

  2. 2 Ernie O'Malley
    December 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    For clarification, it is the Minister Tom Hayes of the Department of Agriculture himself who is pursuing further afforestation of the protected sites (at the behest of a small number of foresters)…not the farming community per se. The farming community in these protected areas do not want forestry, which, due to the legal obligation to replant means that their land is lost to farming in the future if they wanted to revert back to livestock grazing…..farmers want the financial supports and entitlements they are due to allow them to farm appropriately, however the Department of Agriculture during the last Rural Development Programme diverted over 435million euro of EU funding (of a total 528million euro made available specifically for farmers in Natura2000 sites)….to somewhere else…leaving these farmers with a choice of either being pushed into poverty or losing their land and taking the forestry grants and premiums….BUT, the Forest Service had already planted over 50% of the protected areas and the Hen Harrier population crashed because of maturing forestry and a ban was brought in. So the only option for farmers now is poverty….The media in Ireland have been consistently publishing misleading articles about the Hen Harrier designations rather than the scandal of misappropriation of EU funds away from farmers…. Despite the Irish Farmers Asscociation having huge political muscle in Ireland….the voice of hill farmers is not heard.

    • December 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Very sad to hear that Ernie…here in Scotland we also seem to have problems with the large farmers [and estates] making all the political running..and being the most likely to be anti-harrier and anti other predators…..hopefully thats going to change, with our newly announced Land Reform legislation.Like many other types of wild bird harriers dont stick to political boundaries..its up to all countries to make sensible conservation decisions.

  3. 4 Ash
    December 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Crazy crazy crazy! If something is protected then IT’S PROTECTED! What is wrong with these people!

  4. 6 John
    December 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    How do we turn off awful snow effect on this site?

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