With depressing predictability, another of the 2016 cohort of young hen harriers has been found dead.
‘Carroll’ hatched in a nest on Forestry Commission land in Northumberland – one of only three nests in England last year. Named after the late raptor worker Mick Carroll, this bird was satellite-tagged as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project.
Her satellite tag revealed that she didn’t wander very far during her short life, spending much of her time within the boundary of the Northumberland National Park. This map of her movements has been provided by the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life Project:
On 26 January 2017 a local landowner found Carroll’s body and immediately reported it to the authorities. A post mortem revealed she had died with a parasitic infection, but it also revealed two shotgun pellets lodged under healed wounds, one in the leg and one in the throat. Thankfully, the RSPB is handling this case, not Natural England, so the x-ray showing the shotgun pellets in her body has been published. There’s no attempt at obfuscation, no suggestion Carroll was ‘likely to have been shot’, no attempted cover up – the message is clear – at some point, Carroll had been shot, perhaps when she was in the supposed ‘safety’ of the Northumberland National Park. The RSPB knows very well that publishing this x-ray will not ‘affect the course of justice’ as Natural England has claimed for shot hen harrier Rowan, whose corpse was found in the ‘safety’ of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The RSPB knows it won’t affect the course of justice because they know justice won’t be served – nobody will be prosecuted for shooting this precious, threatened species.
Carroll’s name can now be added to the growing list of young hen harriers that have died or ‘disappeared’ since fledging in 2016:
Hen harrier Elwood – ‘disappeared’ in the Monadhliaths just a few weeks after fledging.
Hen harrier Brian – ‘disappeared’ in the Cairngorms National Park just a few weeks after fledging.
Hen harrier Donald – missing in northern France, presumed dead.
Hen harrier Hermione – found dead on Mull, believed to have died from natural causes.
Hen harrier Rowan – found dead in Yorkshire Dales National Park. He’d been shot.
Hen harrier Tarras – ‘disappeared’ in the Peak District National Park.
Hen harrier Beater – missing in Scottish Borders, presumed dead.
Hen harrier Bonny – ‘disappeared’ in the North Pennines, presumed dead.
Nine down, six to go (Aalin, DeeCee, Finn, Harriet, Wendy, Sorrel).
What an appalling situation. Does anybody (apart from the Hawk & Owl Trust) still believe that the grouse shooting industry has cleaned up its act?
UPDATE 07.30hrs: There’s a very good RSPB Skydancer blog about Carroll’s demise here