We’ve learned, through a series of FoIs about DEFRA’s planned hen harrier brood meddling scheme, that the practical aspect of the trial (i.e. the removal of eggs/chicks from the nests and the subsequent captive-rearing) will be undertaken by the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire (see here and here for previous blogs).
The ICBP is directed by Jemima Parry-Jones, who, along with several others involved in this brood meddling scheme (Philip Merricks, Steve Redpath and Philip Holms), also serves on the Hawk & Owl Trust’s Board of Trustees.
As part of her input, she has produced an estimated costing. Given the number of uncertainties about the trial, the costing is, inevitably, largely guesswork. Nevertheless, it’s pretty detailed and provides an insight to what will be involved.
You can read it here: harrier-brood-management-draft-ballpark-costings
Jemima Parry-Jones’ knowledge and expertise on the breeding and captive rearing of raptors is undeniable. She is a recognised and highly respected world authority on this subject. We can be assured that any hen harrier eggs/chicks that the ICBP receives during this trial will be given the utmost care and attention to ensure they’re fit enough for release.
But what’s so baffling, and yes, disappointing, is that Jemima would want to play any part in this brood meddling scheme. As a lifelong advocate for raptor conservation, why would she support a plan to remove these harriers from the wild, just to enable an industry to kill an artificially-high number of grouse, for personal gratification, and then release those harriers back to the wild knowing that their chance of survival (at the hands of that same criminally-based industry) is virtually nil?
Why go to all the effort of rearing those birds, knowing that in fact all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable? There isn’t a scrap of evidence, not one tiny shred, to suggest that those released juveniles will be left alone; on the contrary, ALL the evidence suggests otherwise.
All we have is the word of the grouse shooting industry that they’ll abide by the law, but who in their right mind would take them at their word?! They don’t even believe it themselves – why else would they propose that the cessation of illegal persecution is not a condition of this brood meddling trial!
Wake up Jemima, you’re being played.