2018 start date for reintroduction of hen harrier to southern England?

Further to yesterday’s blog (here), Natural England has released more information in response to our FoI requests in relation to the proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England.

NE has established a new ‘internal’ group to advise the wider Southern Reintroduction Project Team on various technical aspects. This new internal group held its first meeting on 21st September 2017 and here is the agenda:

Also released through FoI is a copy of the draft Project Brief (see below).

From this draft Project Brief, it looks like Natural England is much further ahead with this proposed ‘reintroduction’ than we had imagined. The last we’d heard was that the first release of donated (French) hen harriers in to southern England was planned for 2020. It now looks like 2018 is the favoured start date, as directed by Natural England’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT), although this will depend on securing the necessary permissions from the French statutory agencies.

It also looks like Natural England has agreed to underwrite the costs for this whacko scheme, which means that us taxpayers will be footing the bill of at least £1 million if NE can’t attract any external funders.

The draft Project Brief also reveals that Natural England intends to approach Roy Dennis (and his newly named Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation) to ask if he’ll serve as a consultant to the project. Given Roy’s long track record on managing successful reintroduction projects it’s easy to see why NE would want him on board, not just for his expertise but perhaps also to allow Natural England to use Roy’s good name and reputation to give the impression that this project has a genuine conservation purpose, rather than the purpose we all know is behind it – that is, to draw attention away from the on-going persecution of this species on the upland grouse moors.

We’ve recently spoken to Roy about his potential involvement and how that might backfire on his reputation, in the same way the Hawk & Owl Trust’s former good reputation has now been tarnished by its wilful blindness to the criminal activities of the grouse shooting industry. Roy told us he had indeed been approached and had so far only agreed to visit Salisbury Plain (the proposed release site) in late January 2018. He said he hadn’t yet committed to anything more and would make a decision after meeting with NE on Salisbury Plain.

The draft Project Brief also discusses the importance of gaining RSPB support for this proposed ‘reintroduction’. As we discussed yesterday, the RSPB has so far stated that it does NOT support the project because it didn’t believe the proposed reintroduction complied with IUCN reintroduction guidelines, although this decision was based on pretty sketchy outline feasibility plans and the RSPB was waiting to see more detailed proposals. It’ll be interesting to see what the RSPB makes of this more detailed draft Project Brief.

Here it is:


46 Responses to “2018 start date for reintroduction of hen harrier to southern England?”

  1. 1 Alex Milne
    December 12, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    This doesn’t seem like a “trial” to me, more like a full blown reintroduction by the scale of it. Perhaps it’s only called a trial as it does not have to pass assessments which it is certain to fail, seemingly oly recognised as a danger.
    Still, plenty of possibilities for the French birds to be shot in the uk, and for NE to hide more lost birds.

  2. 2 Howard Wellington
    December 12, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Hello. I don’t disagree in principle with the reintroduction plans outlined as long as we continue to maintain focus and pressure on the grouse moor “industries”. Let’s be clear maintaining that focus rests with us all, so we can help ensure that the proposed plans do not just become a means of diverting attention from the underlying issues that many of us are all concerned about. In fact I think we could turn this on its head – getting behind the reintroduction would give us a platform to continue to emphasise the need for other wider actions that are needed to secure the future for Hen Harriers and other raptors.

  3. 3 Paul V Irving
    December 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    They call it a trial to get round some of the hurdles. I had hoped that what I had heard about no funding until 2020 was true and that in the end sense would prevail even at this late stage. So they have found the money and staff time, something they have largely failed to do with HH activities in the uplands for some time now, shows how skewed their priorities are.
    We were once assured that this would NOT impinge on the priorities in the uplands. It clearly does and it seems that apart from satellite tagging( and being secret about the results) and the even more awful, unethical and ecologically illiterate BM this is priority.
    Despite not being surprised I am hugely disappointed with some people I had thought better of ( respect almost down to zero, in one case now negative). I still hope and expect RSPB to tell them politely to F off.
    To the real issues facing Hen Harriers in the UK this is an irrelevance it makes one feel that NE and DEFRA have largely abandoned any real solution to persecution in the uplands, that both disappoints and angers me enormously. However the fight for justice for our persecuted raptors and for decent management of upland habitats goes on, in that at least nothing has changed.

  4. 4 Leslie Etheridge
    December 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    What effect would such a scheme have on great bustard chicks? Has anyone assessed this?

  5. 5 dave angel
    December 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    If the chicks are being taken from the donor nests at 30 days how does help the French farmers go about their farming operations?

    Or have I misunderstood something?

  6. 6 Ian Carter
    December 12, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    The wording used in this piece suggests that it should not be supported because, despite the potential conservation benefits, it is aimed at drawing attention away from problems in the uplands. That seems an odd way of looking at it to me. If it has conservation benefits for Hen Harriers (which I think it does) then surely they should be judged on their own merits. Having said that, I think that a southern reintroduction involving tagged birds will, if anything, help to draw even more attention to problems in the uplands rather than the other way around. Some of the tagged birds are sure to wander to the uplands and with all the publicity that will be associated with the project any deaths due to illegal persecution will receive widespread attention. If the southern population does well but increases are not forthcoming in the uplands then the damage done by continued illegal persecution on grouse moors will be further highlighted. Whether the conservation benefits justify the funds required is another matter, particularly if Natural England is expected to pay for the whole project.

    • 7 dave angel
      December 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      It’s unethical to reintroduce the birds if the threat that created the need for the reintroduction in the first place (ie persecution) remains.

      It’s even more unethical to try to justify the reintroduction by suggesting that any birds that are illegally killed (an entirely foreseeable outcome) would be useful for propaganda purposes.

      Leave the chicks in France. Stop the illegal persecution and let the birds reintroduce themselves naturally.

      • 8 Ian Carter
        December 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm

        Dave – I take your point but persecution is, unfortunately, a fact of life that applies to all raptor reintroductions. Kites, Sea Eagles, Ospreys and Golden Eagles (in Ireland) have all been lost to illegal persecution and the loss of these birds has helped to raise the profile of the issue and increased the hope that something will finally be done about it. Released kites have also helped to highlight issues with lead and rodenticide poisoning. It would be great if persecution could be stopped so this project was not needed but there are no signs of that happening.

        • 9 Homer Simpson
          December 12, 2017 at 2:58 pm

          Persecution need not be a fact of life though, it is accepted because the authorities are unwilling or unable (mainly due to the pressure applied by powerful people that are associated with shooting), excuses are made constantly because you are lead to believe that this must always be the case. If landowners or indeed gamekeepers wanted hen harriers to recover, then it would be so and given that this is the situation we can be assured that they will continue to be targeted because even if they get all they have asked for (brood meddling, low breeding densities etc) they will still want to kill raptors with impunity to ensure they have the absolute maximum number of birds to shoot and that I am afraid will not be resolved by this scheme.

        • 10 AlanTwo
          December 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

          Ian – I don’t think I could disagree with you more.
          I have not the slightest doubt that a reintroduction program in southern England will distract attention away from persecution in the uplands, rather than drawing attention to it.
          The outrageous mass poisoning of Red Kites and Buzzards in the Black Isle caused an uproar locally, but did not greatly resonate in parts of England where people could see plenty of kites – it was seen as just a ‘bump in the road’. If the Black Isle population had been the only population in the UK, do you honestly think there would have been less attention and anger directed towards the incident? I’m certain there would have been a far greater response. This reintroduction is intended as a smokescreen to take the heat off the grouse brigade in the north.
          I enjoy a lot of what you write, but I think your judgement is way off here – as it was when you supported the refusal of licenses to some raptor workers so the shooters couldn’t continue accusing them of disturbing BoP.

          • 11 Ian Carter
            December 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm

            It sounds very much like you are saying we shouldn’t do something positive for harriers because it might let grouse moor owners off the hook. You use kites as an example and in this case presumably you wish we didn’t have the healthy expanding southern England population because that way persecution in the other areas would get more attention? I don’t share that view – I’m very happy we have the healthy populations of kites well away from grouse moors and I wish we could say the same for harriers.

            • 12 Messi
              December 12, 2017 at 4:28 pm

              Ian, will it really serve hen harrier conservation to create a southern, arable-nesting population, nesting in an ecological trap, the success of which can only be maintained by perpetual, active intervention by field workers? We learnt, did we, that achieving stone curlew recovery mainly by increasing the arable-nesting population is not really sustainable. How is creating a population using an ecological trap serving hen harrier conservation?

              A better approach, surely, would be to invest the funding in the existing population, enabling its productivity to increase and for it to spill into habitat from this source population? Sure, some of the birds from this natural UK increase may well in time come to nest in arable, but only after it’s filled up the upland habitats they habitually choose.

              No-one is saying ‘you shouldn’t do anything for harriers’ – I’m astonished to read you of all people write such a thing. Have you not comprehended the debate to date? The question is What are the best interventions?.

              • 13 Ian Carter
                December 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

                Messi – We are in danger of going in circles on this but yes it would really help Hen Harrier conservation if it were to be successful. We would have a new population restored to the lowlands where levels of persecution are far lower than in the uplands. This population would have huge potential to expand and spread, and I’m not convinced it would require long-term intervention, although I do accept that some nesting attempts in arable would fail because of agricultural operations – much as with Marsh Harriers. An additional benefit would be that an expanding population in the lowlands would make it far harder for grouse moor managers to keep them out of the uplands, particularly if there is funding for tags of ever-improving accuracy and reliability.

                I agree that in an ideal world we would go with your ‘better approach’ in the uplands but this has been tried over decades and it has cost many £millions and is not getting anywhere. As I said, we should not give up on the uplands and the work in the lowlands would help make things much harder for upland keepers. Ultimately, even if they don’t realise it yet, they will come to hate the lowland reintroduction if it ever gets off the ground.

                I see there is discussion here about the Golden Eagle translocation which will also cost over £1 million and also has the same issue about only being necessary because of ongoing illegal persecution. It has less to gain than the HH proposals because it is not about trying to establish an entirely new population that can then expand into vacant habitat. But whereas this blog describes the HH proposals as ‘whacko’ the term used for views about the GE project is ‘mixed’. I fail to understand the difference other than in relation to politics. Why is the GE project not considered to be ‘whacko’?

                • December 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm

                  ‘As I said, we should not give up on the uplands’

                  But that is exactly what this scheme is, unless you count the planned legalised persecution in the uplands.
                  Theresa Coffey told us this very clearly in the Westminster debate. She told us that wildlife crime was good business, oh sorry that driven grouse shooting was good business and that it was also good for waders. So nothing new there. The only thing new, was the HH Action Plan so this is the only real ‘action’ on the table especially as she didn’t think raptor crime on driven grouse moors was significant anyway. And remember this was her solution to ALL raptor crime not just Hen Harriers. The debate wasn’t just about Hen Harriers.
                  So i don;t really see how any one can argue that this is not taking away from dealing with raptor crime when this is the ONLY action on the table in England an and only involves one species.

                  This lowland reintroduction will, as long as persecution is higher in the uplands, select for non migratory tendencies so it will breed out the instinct to disperse. Dispersing birds will be shot and if all roaming birds are shot then this selective breeding is inevitable. This isn’t conservation it is eugenics.
                  It seems reasonable to assume that this is what happened with the naturally surviving population of Red Kites in Wales and that could be the reason why they had such a low dispersal rate.

                • December 27, 2017 at 7:15 pm

                  ‘ But whereas this blog describes the HH proposals as ‘whacko’ the term used for views about the GE project is ‘mixed’. I fail to understand the difference other than in relation to politics. Why is the GE project not considered to be ‘whacko’?’

                  Ian, if you can’t see differences between this scheme and the lowland Red Kite re-introduction then i suggest you aren’t actually trying.
                  There are differences and similarities so the word ‘mixed’ is entirely understandable. Difference which stand out are that the Golden Eagle scheme is not going to take way attention from the killing driven grouse moors (for various reasons) and Golden Eagles are being helped within their recent range. It is a boost not a re-introduction.
                  I struggle to find many similarities but one is that neither have addressed the reasons for their absence or the risk of persecution so both shouldn’t be allowed at least until Licensing is introduced and found to be effective at stamping out immediately local persecution hot spots.

            • 16 AlanTwo
              December 12, 2017 at 5:48 pm

              Ian – I made no comment about whether I was pleased or otherwise about the southern kite population. I challenged your view that the presence of a healthy population in the south would focus more attention on the situation in the north. I stated that in the case of the Red Kite, the opposite seems to have happened, and I stand by that view.
              Let me repeat my question – if the Black Isle population had been the only kite population present in the UK, do you honestly think there would have been less attention and anger directed towards the mass poisoning incident there?
              If you really want to know, I would be pleased to see healthy populations of all our birds of prey in all parts of the UK where suitable habitat exists for them.

            • 17 Mick
              December 12, 2017 at 9:08 pm


              94 red kites were taken from the Chilterns and released near Gateshead. How many do they have in that area today, more than 13 years since the first release?

              Do we see any publicity or concern for the low numbers? No, because red kites are seen to be doing well in other areas other than Grizedale and the Black Isle.

              Boosting the number of hen harriers in England is for one reason only and that’s to mask what is going on in our uplands. If we have £1 million to spare then it should be used to stop wildlife criminals rather than introduce birds that will be persecuted.

              • 18 frank hopkin
                December 12, 2017 at 10:16 pm

                ere in the north east RK is not flourishing! As they try to “spread out” they are immediately shot or poisoned..Numerous cases over the last few years! And no charges of course!

              • December 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

                Excellent points by Mick and AlanTwo and how is the HH Mad Plan going to help those same Red Kites.
                Banning is the obvious answer which Ian ignores as if it doesn’t exist.
                I think it is strange that if we try to adhere to laws and rules we are labelled extremists and there is a hint of that suggestion in Ian’s comments.
                As much as i love to see Red Kites flying around, even once on Mull, with hindsight they shouldn’t have been released without first bringing raptor crime to the real ‘few rotten apple’ level otherwise we would just be ignoring IUCN guidelines. Perhaps some releases around the existing Welsh population to increase genetic diversity would have been acceptable.
                I am not even sure that the argument, ‘we didn’t know how bad raptor persecution was at the time’ is tenable. I tend to think it was. I don’t think many people would have predicted the terrible state of some of the Red Kite populations. I dread the next Aberdeen population figures.
                Is the argument that ‘oh but it is so nice to see those lovely Red Kites’ a scientific, rational argument?

                • December 16, 2017 at 1:22 pm

                  I should add what to me is an obvious conclusion. We may or not have known how bad raptor crime was before the Red Kite releases but we certainly know now. Releasing HHs when we known for certain that some, probably many and possibly all will be killed on driven grouse moors is not only morally wrong, it is breaking IUCN guidelines and is wasting resources when much simpler legal solutions are available.

    • 22 Sandra Padfield
      December 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      If any tagged, re-introduced birds disappear in the uplands I’m sure the project managers will just bury bad news. I don’t think the public is going to know about it!

    • 23 Homer Simpson
      December 12, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      It is such a shame that none of us can support this as you say it would be a fantastic project to support, if only we could address the issues that have caused the declines in the first place.
      How can we possibly consider supporting a translocation scheme that brings a species that is heavily persecuted, a species that in all probability would recover without interference if persecution ceased and one that two years after agreement of the UK government to implement a plan that no true conservation organisation can agree to has been forced upon those who put the birds interests first, in order to facilitate the needs of the wildlife criminals that refuse to accept any predators (legally protected or otherwise) to coexists with the artificially high densities of game birds.

      The arguments I have seen about birds being satellite tagged and so offered a degree of protection are dumbfounding given how well that has worked thus far hasn’t it?

      It’s another case of giving them one last chance for the 100th time, let’s be honest DGS has been given the opportunity under this plan to show that they can operate within the law and have failed dismally, this should be the very reason that this scheme is refused point blank and it should remain that way until they can prove that raptor persecution has been reduced to a much lower level, this would be proven by successful breeding pairs of hen harriers and other larger raptors in our uplands.

      • 24 Messi
        December 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

        I’m sorry, but ignoring the upland issue for a second, actively seeking to create a lowland arable nesting population is not a fantastic project. It’s creating a perpetual headache that will require on-going intervention by field workers. The long-term costs of this will be eye-watering. Fair enough, if an expanding population starts to nest in arable then we’ll be presented with a headache and will have to start to intervene.

  7. 25 SG
    December 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Worth noting that local raptor experts, including harrier experts, have not been consulted. Not have many landowners have been consulted either… and some landowners are already saying that they feel reintroduced hen harriers will affect their local shoots. Imagine how exciting this project would be (for most of us) if illegal persecution had stopped? It’s all so tragic and futile…

  8. 26 Chris T
    December 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    The Senior Leadership Team at NE seem to be throwing everything at this (I note that even the project team seem a bit concerned about the ‘hugely ambitious timescale’), there’s obviously some very high level political pressure for this to happen regardless of the many Risks, they themselves have highlighted.

    I’d be very interested to see the IUCN assessment as the proposal doesn’t appear to meet the required guidance in ensuring sufficient suitable habitat or confirming a removal/minimisation of the causes of the original population decline. It’s not as if HH don’t occur in Wiltshire already (and Somerset and occasionally into Devon), especially in winter, so if there’s suitable habitat for them, why don’t they stay and breed there already?

    • 27 SG
      December 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Hen harriers are not a rare site during winter in Wiltshire. For example, there were 139 sightings records received a couple of winters ago; many of these sightings were on Salisbury Plain and surrounding area. They were known to bred in Wiltshire in 1936 and 2003 – wonder why more don’t breed here already?

  9. 28 Al Woodcock
    December 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Won’t these birds migrate north to the uplands for the breeding season?

    • December 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      I gather they are counting on the percentage of birds which don’t range far (as demonstrated by satellite tagging) and sod the ones that do and become cannon fodder. They also seem to believe that lowland birds are genetically programmed to nest and range in the lowlands. I doubt the latter but i think it will work, in the sense that a small number will breed in the lowlands but again their chicks which roam will also become cannon fodder. That is why there are guidelines against introductions which have not solved the underlying problem. Add to this the problem of lowland persecution which we know happens although less than on driven grouse moors but which is acknowledged by the recent FOI documents plus the problems with intensive farming and the fact that re-colonisation would happen quickly and naturally if politicians enforced and strengthened the law and so the whole farce is shown to be what it is, a cover for crime in the uplands.
      Ian Carters argument depends on looking at a very small part of the picture. Since when has that worked in conservation? It is like helping Spoon-billed Sandpipers without sorting out the reason for their decline, hunting and loss of feeding sites. Perhaps we should introduce Spoon-billed Sandpipers to northern Scotland? It make as much sense.

  10. 30 Iain Gibson
    December 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Joke of the week in the latest GWCT newsletter regarding recommendation of “restraint” in shooting Woodcock – “most shooters understand the importance of preserving breeding stocks when there are signs of adverse natural events and are prepared to minimize shooting pressure in order to aid population recovery.” So what about the Hen Harriers?

    • 31 Paul V Irving
      December 12, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Perhaps you should ask them that question Iain. I’ve always found the request to show restraint odd in shooting. in showing restraint do I nearly shoot it, think about not shooting it but then kill it anyway or do I shoot to wound it? Perhaps better not to shoot them at all.
      Ian Carter, I agree it might have merit under very different circumstances but it is a deflection exercise and a very expensive one, as well as smacking of an abandonment of the uplands. Whether that is true or not that is the impression. The immediate problem for harriers is persecution and lets not forget a satellite tagged bird ” disappeared” in the south west, that should be the priority and nothing else.

      • 32 Iain Gibson
        December 12, 2017 at 6:44 pm

        Paul, I appear to have been blocked by the GWCT. The last two comments I submitted to their e-newsletter were not accepted for publication. No swearing or abusive text on my part, just some home truths and debate they’d rather not have publicised among their members.

  11. 33 Roderick Leslie
    December 12, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    For me, this whole project is morally wrong on a whole range of issues – there is no doubt it’s principle aim is to take attention away from a soluble problem which its sponsors are not prepared to address. It will probably result in the unnecessary deaths of a lot of young Hen Harriers and unlike the other reintroductions i don’t believe it will work because too many of the introduced birds will wander into harms way.

    And it isn’t a fantastic project – what would be a fantastic project is to stop killing the tiny number of HH reared this year in England – my rough reckoning suggests this years FC Harriers could repopulate available English habitat in not much more than 10 years in the absence of persecution – now that would be a fantastic project.

    • 34 Paul V Irving
      December 12, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Indeed Roderick that should really be the only game in town when it comes to Hen Harriers.
      However that would not generate a whole raft of papers in Academia for those involved in this ghastly exercise about dispersion, survival, conflict resolution, how to apply this to other species etc.
      Gives the game lobby what they want, so the customer base on NE works again.Time they realised their customer base is not these people at all but the country as a whole AND the wildlife they are supposed to be doing their best for . All this to avoid the obvious facing up to the criminals, their rich landowning bosses their rich clients and their protection racket within the parliament, the judiciary and the police because its a bit difficult. Easily solved BAN DRIVEN GROUSE SHOOTING end of.

  12. 35 Anon
    December 12, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Another point to ask anyone considering joining this ridiculous project is whether Natural England can be trusted with the data from satellite tagged harriers?

    After all, Natural England is the organisation that can’t bring itself to say that a bird has been shot when x-rays clearly show lead shot in the bird; it is the organisation that claims that all the birds that disappear can’t be found because their sat tags have run out of charge because the birds are lying on their backs; and it is the organisation that still hasn’t published 15 years or more of hen harrier tracking data.

    And it is also a very big assumption that NE will tag them all – the logistics of fitting tags to 50 birds, even if they are in cages, will be very difficult. Monitoring 50 birds in the first winter (if it is to be done properly!!!), then 50 plus whatever survives from the first year of releases will be even harder in the second year.

  13. 36 Doug Malpus
    December 12, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    NE wish to hide the criminal activity on the grouse moors and protect the criminals in so doing. The introduction in the south of England rather than protecting HH in the north is a real cop out.

    NE seems to be too weak and powerless against the moorland killers. No longer fit for purpose.


    • 37 AlanTwo
      December 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Absolutely – and I’d add naïve, duplicitous and sometimes complicit to your last sentence.
      Simple weakness I could maybe forgive.

  14. 38 Loki
    December 12, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Shouldn’t we be concentrating efforts on land reform rather than banning driven grouse shooting?

  15. 39 Sandra Padfield
    December 12, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    How on earth can anyone, particularly some raptor experts, regard the establishment of a crop nesting population as a sustainable solution? As other comments have noted such a population would require continuous artificial support. There are enough problems supporting the handful of Montagu’s harriers which self-select this habitat type.

  16. December 12, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Loki…you raise a very interesting point…we do of course need to use the persecution of birds of prey as a tool in getting more land reform…and a ban on Driven Grouse Shooting would be a very good signal on that issue.

  17. 42 From One Anon to Another
    December 13, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    These late comments tend to get lost in the pasts of time, but I’m with Ian. Get on and do something with a southern reintroduction for hen harriers. And beavers. Be bold and stop prevaricating and, certainly, stop getting mired in the politically correct politics that has dogged UK conservation for far too long. I’d love to see where we were now if Mark Avery had been appointed CEO of RSPB. Maybe he’ll apply for the job when it comes up shortly ;-)

  18. December 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Of all the madcap schemes, and there are plenty to choose from this year, this certainly is a contender for the most bonkers.
    So we are introducing lowland birds which are having problems nesting in farmers crops to the lowlands of England where if they are at all successful will try to breed in, uh, farmers fields!
    It would make more sense for the French to introduce our Scottish upland birds to their uplands. The French farmers aren’t deliberately killing Hen Harriers as far as i am aware.
    This statement is worthy of the great Maybot herself
    ‘Overall, the greatest conservation benefit for HH (and other species) is most likely to be gained from the establishment of a lowland crop-nesting population.’
    How the fuck is the scheme going to help ‘other species’?
    It is a sticking plaster solution to avoid political action.
    The Scottish government would see through this in a second. They may be slow but they are at least not moving retrograde.

  19. 44 Iain Gibson
    December 16, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    It doesn’t require a particularly incisive mind to see clearly that Natural England and this project overall is playing to the tune of the grouse shooting community, (or industry if you prefer). All these civil servants and scientists pulling together, at considerable expense, to devise a false “solution” to the crime of raptor persecution. And taking considerable ecological risks in the process. If half the effort was made to publicise, detect and prosecute the criminals, rather than giving in to their selfish demands, we might actually begin to make progress. But it seems unlikely that is going to happen, because we have already gone so far down the route of appeasing the shooting crowd. I repeat my conviction that we need to gain better publicity for the cause, to encourage far greater public support. If we could match the anti-fox hunting groups we’d be getting somewhere. Meanwhile most bird clubs and ornithological societies remain strangely silent. Some won’t even accept comments for printing in their publications, or accept promotion of Hen Harrier Days. Most surprising to me are the Raptor Study Group members who don’t contribute openly to the debate. I can’t speak for most groups in the country, but attendance from my own group at the local Hen Harrier Day events can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Obviously some people have other important commitments in their lives, but I find it disappointing none the less. I dread to think how far behind we might be, were it not for the efforts of RPUK and its contributors to the blog.

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