National Trust response to armed man with decoy hen harrier on a grouse moor

The National Trust has issued a formal statement in response to the video of an armed man on a grouse moor sitting next to a decoy hen harrier.

Remember, this wasn’t just any old grouse moor. It was a  National Trust-owned grouse moor, within the Peak District National Park, and a participant moor in the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative.

Fake Hen Harrier (1) - Copy

Statement from Jon Stewart, General Manager, National Trust (Peak District):

As part of our High Peak Moors Vision and as a conservation charity, the National Trust is committed to protecting birds of prey and working closely with partners and tenants in managing the moors. We are aware of a report of a suspicious incident being investigated by the police, which took place in February this year on land in the Peak District which we own and lease out for grouse shooting.  We have been awaiting the results of their investigation before following up ourselves.  We now know the police have reviewed the footage but are taking no further action, so we will now be carrying out a full investigation of our own. We are treating this very seriously and will not be commenting further pending the results of that investigation.”

It’s good that they’ve bothered to issue a statement, and it’s good that they are launching their own ‘full investigation’, although it would have been better had they launched this investigation back in February, when they were first made aware of this video. They needn’t have waited for the results of the police investigation to launch their own internal investigation.

Nevertheless, they’ve said they’re investigating and they’ve said they are treating this “very seriously”, so let’s see just how seriously they’ll manage this. They know the identity of the estate where the footage was filmed (on the Snake Moors, according to a comment given by the NT to Mark Avery this morning), and presumably they have a contract with the shooting tenant of that estate that will allow them to take action against the tenant if there is evidence to suggest the tenant has breached the conditions of the contract.

As we understand it, the National Trust re-assessed its contracts with its three grouse moor tenants within the Peak District National Park following the earlier case of raptor persecution that was uncovered on the NT Howden Moor, resulting in the conviction of gamekeeper Glenn Brown (see here). It is rumoured that the revised contracts include a clause detailing the specific type of predator control techniques permitted on NT land. We wonder if the use of a decoy raptor was specifically mentioned in the new contract?

We await the findings of their investigation, and news of what action the NT will (or won’t) take with great interest. Let’s hope they get this right.

17 Responses to “National Trust response to armed man with decoy hen harrier on a grouse moor”

  1. 1 Doug Malpus
    April 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I have emailed the NT Helen Gosh.
    This is my email.

    Dear Helen, Re, Faking It (web address included)

    If you haven’t seen this article by Raptor Persecution Scotland, we suggest that it is of HIGH PRIORITY.

    Two bird watchers observed a person with possibly a gun waiting near a decoy in the shape of a hen harrier. This was on NT land.

    As members of the NT I am disgusted that shooting is still allowed on our land. The game bird shooting industry is an environmental disaster, causing so much harm to the land, native predators and restrictions to public access.

    We left the NT membership many years ago when your organisation opposed the hunting with dogs ban. Now we are having serious doubts about the NT again.

    The shooting industry is nothing to do with conservation or care for our land. They kill anything that may damage their gun fodder, they use banned poisons, they spray huge amounts of poisonous lead over the land, they medicate birds with substances not licensed for such use, they destroy natural habitat (burning heather, draining blanket bogs, remove trees, build unnecessary tracks), breed unsustainable populations of game birds (no figures for grouse, over 30 million pheasants per annum to be shot). This is a sick industry that plays no useful part in our society other than feeding the blood lust of the sick and cruel folk. We do not object to a solitary hunter, stalking and shooting for the pot. But the grouse, pheasant and partridge massacre when most birds are left to rot is abhorrent.

    If you look at prehistoric paintings, you will observe that driven game hunting was a technique the early people used. The people of prehistory had little choice in their methods, hunting like this was a matter of life or death. Why do these so called modern people think that driven game shooting is part of todays life?

    Much of the moorland destruction by the shooting industry is the cause of much of the lowland flooding, caused by careless draining, removal of trees and burning of heather. All this contributes to the rapid runoff of the excessive rain we are now experiencing.

    Please investigate the article above and let us know your findings.

    Also, how much NT land is used for this primitive type of killing and all the problems associated with it?

    What is the NT policy about this mass killing method?

    I wonder if she will reply.

  2. April 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I hope that she has the decency to respond, after all she should make sure that things like this shouldn’t happen on NT land and why do they let land out for grouse shooting, I was under the impression that this is not something that used to rake place naturally in England and as the NT is meant to protect the areas it owns what is going on?

  3. April 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Our group has had this NT reply (from Jon Stewart) and a similar one from Amanda at the Moorland group.

    We await replies from the Gamekeepers, DEFRA, et al.

    Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I can’t see this killing stopping – the groups who should care and have authority in the matter have plenty to say, but will they ever take any effective action? (rhetorical question)

  4. 6 Ian rogerson
    April 27, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Nothing short of scandalous.

  5. 7 Paul Chandler
    April 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I can tell u the result now they will say nothing needs doing NT run by pro hunting/ shooting types

  6. 8 Iain H Leach
    April 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    If the NT really wanted to put a stop to this the simple thing to do would be to stop allowing grouse shooting on the moors they own. End of problem. Doubtless there are vested interests at play so it probably won’t happen.

  7. 9 Jim Clarke
    April 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Jon Stewart (General Manager, National Trust Peak District) replied to me on the lines of ‘views acknowledged, here is the press statement’. Fair enough. I’ve responded in turn and I’ll wait a short while in case Jon contacts me further before saying much else on here. However, as I don’t expect any concrete action from the National Trust (I don’t want to be unfair but based on their track record I’m certainly not being), its looking like the showdown will be coming this shooting season and I doubt things will be quite the same after that.

  8. 10 SOG
    April 28, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    I’ve had this back from the NT DG’s office. I suspect they’ve been busy with emails, and as a result this is a rather general response, which I can understand ……………………………………………………..

    Thanks for getting in touch about this. As Jon Stewart (our local GM) has been saying to correspondents on this, we are as concerned as anyone else if this was really an attempt to kill hen harriers; it’s not yet clear that it is, but we are working closely with the authorities. I don’t think it is true to say that “we are part of the grouse shooting industry”. Peter Nixon tells me that the High Peak is the only place on our land where there is grouse shooting of any kind, and where we can legally do so, we have been adjusting the terms of shooting leases specifically to reduce impacts on wildlife including a specific requirement on the protection of hen harriers. Peter can give you more information if you would like it.


    The NT do have the problem that land may have been left to them with terms and conditions applied.

    I wonder what their attitude is towards burning heather. The NT are already well aware of climate changes issues, and I expect them to be already be set against it.

    • April 28, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      Thanks, SOG.

      It would be interesting to learn how, exactly, they have been ‘adjusting the terms of shooting leases specifically to reduce impacts on wildlife including a specific requirement on the protections of hen harriers’.

      As we understand it, the shooting leases were all ‘adjusted’ following the conviction of gamekeeper Glenn Brown a few years ago, who was found guilty of raptor persecution crimes on another NT moor in the PDNP (Howden Moor). We’ve been told the revised leases include a specific clause about predator control techniques. What we’d really like to know is whether the NT has banned the use of non-live decoys, such as the one seen in the video, as one of those techniques.

      • 12 SOG
        April 28, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        I can’t really help there.

        Unlike some of the contributors above, I think they are concerned and focused. If you remember a few years ago, in the hunting dispute they were seen as too town-dominated by the hunting fraternity. I suspect pressure of numbers emailing them will be significant, particularly from members.

        Get typing folks, and don’t just copy someone else’s message.

  9. 14 JW4926
    April 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    The NT DG’s offce has said
    ‘I don’t think it is true to say that “we are part of the grouse shooting industry”. Peter Nixon tells me that the High Peak is the only place on our land where there is grouse shooting of any kind’

    Presumably the ‘grouse shooting of any kind’ is charged for by whoever is organising it and paid for by whoever is doing it. It is there a commercial enterprise being enacted upon land which is being rented/leased (presumably for financial gain) from the NT – therefore the NT is part of the grouse shooting industry, whether they consider they are or not. They know it’s going on on their land and have obviously accepted the fact.

    I’ve really had enough of the hiding head and shrugging shoulders of these supposedly environmentally aware groups who really can’t wait to dissociate themselves from any responsibility for anything they’re supposed to stand for …….. rant over!

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