Natural England has today issued the following press statement:
North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following the loss of a hen harrier in Upper Swaledale.
Mick, a young male, fledged in Northumberland last summer. He was fitted with a satellite tag in July by a hen harrier expert from Natural England. His tag stopped transmitting on 21 December 2016 in the Thwaite area of North Yorkshire. A search of the area has been carried out but no trace of the bird or equipment has been found.
Natural England reported Mick’s disappearance to North Yorkshire Police and is working closely with wildlife crime officers, local landowners, the Moorland Association and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The loss of another juvenile hen harrier brings the total to five within four months across northern England – and is a serious blow to the small English hen harrier population. Interference with hen harriers is a criminal offence.
Rob Cooke, a Director at Natural England, said:
“The disappearance of a hen harrier is deeply concerning to all who appreciate these rare and impressive birds. Any information that can shed light on what has happened to Mick will be gratefully received by North Yorkshire Police“.
David Butterworth, Chief Executive at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said:
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the Yorkshire Dales’ reputation as a wonderful place to visit is being damaged by incidents like this. We have pledged to provide whatever support we can to help the Police and Natural England find out what happened in this particular case“.
Anyone with any information which could help police with their enquiries should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12170014975 when passing information.
Thwaite is an interesting area, dominated by driven grouse moors (the dark brown areas with the patchwork of rectangular burnt heather strips on this map):
The Yorkshire Dales National Park and the neighbouring Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are well-known blackspots for hen harriers (and many other raptors). Hen harriers have not bred successfully in the Yorkshire Dales National Park since 2007. According to 2007-2014 hen harrier satellite data, published by Natural England in 2014, at least nine young sat tagged hen harriers (11 if we include Rowan & Mick) have ‘disappeared’ or been killed within the National Park / AONB area:
Female, tagged N England 26/6/07: last tag signal 5/10/07. Status: missing.
Female, tagged N England 16/7/09: last tag signal 27/9/09. Status: missing.
Male, tagged Bowland 29/6/09: last tag signal 17/8/09. Status: missing.
Female, tagged N England 29/6/10: last tag signal 25/11/10. Status: missing.
Female (Bowland Betty), tagged Bowland 22/6/11: found dead 5/7/12. Status: shot dead.
Female (Kristina), tagged N England 25/6/12: last tag signal 9/10/12. Status: missing.
Male (Thomas), tagged N England 4/9/12: last tag signal 4/9/12. Status: missing.
Male (Sid), tagged Langholm 21/9/14: last tag signal 21/9/14. Status: missing.
Female (Imogen), tagged N England 26/6/14: last tag signal 1/9/14. Status: missing.
Male (Rowan), tagged Langholm 2016: found dead 22/10/16. Status: shot dead.
Male (Mick), tagged Northumberland 2016: last tag signal 21/12/16. Status: missing.
Mick was a Natural England-tagged bird, so he doesn’t appear on the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life Project website. He does, though, now appear on our ever-lengthening list of 2016-fledged hen harriers that have died and / or ‘disappeared’:
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.
Hen harrier Carroll – found dead in Northumberland, PM revealed a parasitic disease & two shotgun pellets.
Hen harrier Mick – ‘disappeared’ in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, presumed dead.
Ten down, six to go (Aalin, DeeCee, Finn, Harriet, Wendy, Sorrel).
Mick’s last tag signal was received on 21 December 2016. So he ‘disappeared’ before Xmas and yet it’s taken Natural England / North Yorkshire Police almost seven weeks to issue this appeal for information. That’s pretty poor. If you’d prefer not to have to rely upon Government agencies releasing information way too late to help, you might want to consider donating to BAWC’s new raptor satellite-tagging project, where information about tagged birds will be publicised with greater speed and accuracy, and not delayed by wasting time ‘working closely’ with the likes of the Moorland Association. Please visit BAWC’s crowdfunding/donations page HERE