17
Jan
18

Five year Hen harrier brood meddling trial gets green light to start this year

Natural England has finally given the green light to the highly controversial hen harrier brood meddling scheme and has issued a licence for the five-year trial to begin this year.

As many of you already know, brood meddling is one of six action points in DEFRA’s ludicrous Hen Harrier Action Plan, designed to rescue the English hen harrier breeding population from virtual extinction.

For the benefit of new blog readers, here’s a quick overview of what brood meddling is about:

Hen harriers have been wiped out as a breeding species on driven grouse moors in England. Even though this is a protected species of the highest conservation priority, it has been, and still is, illegally persecuted, with impunity, by grouse moor owners and their gamekeepers. There is enough room for over 300 breeding pairs in England: last year there were only three successful pairs, and none of those was on a grouse moor (prime habitat). So, here’s DEFRA’s ‘rescue’ plan.

Instead of throwing absolutely everything in to catching and prosecuting these criminals (because that’s what they are), the Government is instead going to allow the temporary removal of hen harriers from grouse moors during the breeding season. Eggs/chicks will be collected from nests (‘brood meddled’) and hatched/reared in captivity for a few weeks. The idea is that by removing the hen harrier eggs/chicks, the adult hen harriers won’t prey on as many red grouse chicks (which are already at a ridiculously artificial high density thanks to intensive management), which means there’ll be even more red grouse available later in the season for paying clients to shoot in the face, for a bit of fun. The grouse moor owners and their gamekeepers will be happy and there’ll be no need to kill any more hen harriers. Sounds good, right?

But wait. What about those young hen harriers that have been reared in captivity? What happens to them? Well, they’ll be released, at fledging age, back to the moorland areas from where they were first removed. They’ll no longer be a threat to the grouse moor owners’ profits because all the red grouse chicks will have grown in to adults so they won’t be as vulnerable to hen harrier predation.

Perfect. Everybody lives happily ever after (except the red grouse).

There’s just one tiny problem with this plan.

Those young hen harriers will be released back on to the moors around the same time that the grouse shooting season opens on 12 August. Those young hen harriers are going to be flying around the moors looking for food and the red grouse will react by either trying to hide or by scattering in all directions. This will disrupt the grouse ‘drives’ which is when the red grouse are flushed in lines towards the grouse butts and the waiting guns. Guests who have paid thousands of pounds for the chance to stand in a grouse butt and shoot those grouse are not going to be happy if there aren’t many birds available for them to blast to smithereens.

So what do you think’s going to happen? You don’t need to be a genius to work it out. And indeed satellite tag data has shown time and time again that young dispersing hen harriers are routinely killed on grouse moors, especially during the first few months of the grouse shooting season in August, September and October, because grouse moor owners and their gamekeepers will not tolerate anything that threatens to disrupt their lucrative grouse shoots.

Nobody will get caught/prosecuted, the grouse-shooting industry will deny all knowledge (they’ll deny it’s even happening because they’ll be careful to hide the evidence), there’ll be further delay in the Government considering any other kind of action (such as licensing or banning driven grouse shooting) because it’ll say the five-year trial needs to run its course, and so we’ll end up back where we started with virtually no hen harriers and the untouchable, filthy grouse shooting industry still getting away with their crimes.

Despite knowing all this, yesterday Natural England finally issued a licence that will permit brood meddling to begin this year. We’ve been asking for the details of this project for a long, long time and Natural England has put every possible obstacle in our way while the licence application was being considered. Reading the details that have just been released, it not hard to see why they would want to keep it under wraps for so long.

The most important documents for you to read are these:

Hen Harrier brood meddling trial project plan

Brood meddling licence 2018_2020

Letter to licensing applicant

Additional conditions for brood meddling licence 2018_2020

Technical assessment of brood meddling licence application

These documents (above) will provide you with a good overview of what’s going on. There are other documents that go in to more detail for those who wish to know more, and these are provided at the end of this blog.

Here are the main points about the brood meddling plan:

  • The licence covers moorland throughout northern England
  • No eggs or chicks may be taken into captivity unless the threshold of two nests within 10km is met
  • Nests can only be brood meddled where the harrier pair has the potential to reduce the shootable surplus of red grouse
  • No hen harrier pair can be brood meddled in consecutive nesting attempts (this assumes individuals can be identified)
  • Hen harriers cannot be brood meddled without the landowner’s consent
  • Hen harriers cannot be brood meddled until a release site has been determined and the ‘local team’ has been approved by Natural England
  • All brood meddled hen harriers will be satellite-tagged prior to release
  • Hen harriers cannot be brood meddled until satellite-tags have been procured
  • The Moorland Association is procuring the satellite tags (yes, really!)
  • A ‘new’ type of satellite tag will be used
  • The Moorland Association and GWCT, as members of the Project Board, will have access to the hen harrier satellite tag data (yes, really!)
  • Natural England is responsible for analysing the satellite tag data (yes, really!)
  • Hen harriers removed from a Special Protection Area designated for hen harriers (Bowland Fells SPA, Nothern Pennines SPA) must be returned within the boundary of that SPA
  • Hen harriers removed from sites outwith an SPA will be returned to ‘suitable habitat within the trial area and where practical close to the area from where they were taken’
  • There is a recommendation that hen harriers ‘should not be released within sight of burnt heather strips’ (!!)
  • Brood meddling will be undertaken by the International Centre for Birds of Prey (Newent, Glos) – the brood meddling licence holder is Mrs Jemima Parry Jones of the ICBP. Natural England tried to redact this information without realising it had already been released in response to one of our earlier FoIs, and they also made a hash of the actual redaction: ‘Dear Jemima’ is a bit of a giveaway!
  • The Moorland Association will pay the ICBP to undertake the brood meddling trial and has entered into a five-year legal contract with the ICBP to ensure funding throughout the trial
  • Brood meddled eggs/chicks will be held in captivity at the ICBP in Newent
  • At approx 3 weeks old, captive hen harriers will be removed to a temporary aviary at a suitable release site where a ‘local team’ will look after them
  • There must be 24hr site security at the release aviary
  • Details of release sites have not been given
  • The trial can be stopped at any stage if a number of things happen. One of these is if ‘there is higher than expected mortality of birds post release’. This is suspicously vague and may well become a contentious issue, a bit like the Hawk & Owl Trust’s so-called ‘immoveable provisos’ on illegal persecution that turned out to be quite moveable after all.

That’s quite a lot to digest so we’ll return to some of these details in due course.

The big question now is, how many grouse moor owners will ‘allow’ a pair of nesting hen harriers on their land? The grouse shooting industry is kind of backed in to a corner, and it’s all of its own making. Grouse moor owners probably all thought brood meddling was a great idea when it was first mooted, as they thought those ‘brood meddled’ harriers would be removed from their moors and dumped hundreds of miles away in southern England as part of the proposed reintroduction scheme down there. Now they’ve been told that’s not going to happen – brood meddled hen harriers have to be returned to the upland moors.

What will the grouse moor owners do? Do they play ball and allow hen harriers to breed on the moors (because DEFRA et al are going to be pretty upset if it looks like the grouse shooting industry is not cooperating)? But if they do that, they run the risk that ‘their’ nest may not get brood meddled, especially if neighbouring moors refuse to ‘let hen harriers in‘, and so then they’ll be stuck with an unwanted hen harrier pair plus offspring.

It’s all going to get quite interesting in the next few months.

Here are the additional documents released by Natural England for those who want more detail of this disgraceful decision:

SSSI notice proforma supplied with brood meddling licence

Summary of brood meddling licensing decision

Habitats Regulations Assessment of brood meddling licence application

Brood meddling licence application

Information from the applicant on project submitted in the form of a draft Habitats Regulations Assessment

Applicants email response to further information request

Information from applicant in response to further information request

UPDATE 17 April 2018: Legal challenge against hen harrier brood meddling continues, x2 (see here)

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57 Responses to “Five year Hen harrier brood meddling trial gets green light to start this year”


  1. 1 Harry Bickerstaff
    January 17, 2018 at 9:02 am

    I thought things were terrible in Scotland – and they are – but this is beyond belief.

  2. 2 Alex Milne
    January 17, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Even after I’d read half of your excellent description of what is going on, I realised that it’s unlikely that many, if any, grouse moor owners will sign up to this to the extent of having 2 nests within 10km. I’m sure the RSPB won’t. Thanks for cheering me up, I was angry that it was going ahead, when the same amount of money, directed towards tagging all raptors in England, and hen harriers in Scotland, would, if the results were released, show clearly what was happening and might result in convictions.

    • January 17, 2018 at 11:06 am

      As i understand it, it doesn’t matter if the nearby pair is part of the scheme so even if one pair was on RSPB land the licensed persecution could still go ahead if it is within 10km.

  3. 4 Anon
    January 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    And in other news the Home Office has decided that it’s just too difficult to solve other crimes like murder, drug dealing and car-jacking; and besides, to do so would just get in the way of economic activity. So on Mondays dealing in heroin is fine, Tuesdays will now be “help yourself to any car you fancy Tuesday”, and Wednesday’s your day for terminally resolving that leylandii dispute with your neighbour.

    And finally, well done to the International Bird of Prey Centre and the Hawk and Owl Trust for facilitating this – I hope you see the link between your involvement in this shoddy deal and every illegally killed hen harrier, peregrine and every other bird of prey that is found on or near a grouse moor in the coming months and years.

  4. 5 Gerard
    January 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    If for example, there aren’t any HH nests within 10 km of each other, on grouse moors, then this is all a giant red herring. There were 3 pairs nesting in England last year, I believe.

  5. 6 Gerard
    January 17, 2018 at 10:04 am

    I suppose the game shooting industry COULD buy into this wholesale and in a few years some places might have a reasonable population density of HH so a trial could begin. I still get the feeling though that it is equivalent to the government, to stop hooligans in the park vandalising the toilets, putting golden taps and loo seats in them. They would just get nicked.

  6. 7 Paul V Irving
    January 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

    “Nests can only be brood meddled where the harrier pair has the potential to reduce the shootable surplus of red grouse”
    At the densities that they are proposing this will NOT happen . The MAs own figures from way back in the Environment Council days ( when densities were lower but still very high) it was shown that there needed to be a harrier density of greater than 2 pairs per 5000 Acres to be even likely to reduce the shootable surplus. How are they going to measure it and this in reality means if they follow their own rules no nests on grouse moors should ever suffer this bloody vandalism.
    If you are reading this JPJ your credibility has like that of Merricks before you gone to much less than zero!

  7. 8 SOG
    January 17, 2018 at 11:16 am

    So will these sat tag locations be available to the public?

  8. January 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Goes to prove NE and Defra are firmly in the pockets of the shooting lobby. They are not fit for purpose and should be disbanded immediately.

  9. 10 Robert Moss
    January 17, 2018 at 11:25 am

    In Scotland, the main complaint about harriers from keepers used to be, not that they reduce the “shootable surplus” of red grouse, but that they disrupt drives. Before Langholm, some keepers would leave a couple of pairs of harriers “for the bird-watchers” while putting gin traps in the nests of others. Langholm polarised the issue to the point that more harriers were killed just to spite vociferous “bird-watchers”. The licensed control of harriers became politically impossible. Meanwhile, academics proposed irrelevant and impracticable technical fixes such as diversionary feeding and “brood-meddling”. So here we are.

    • 11 Iain Gibson
      January 18, 2018 at 4:56 am

      Robert, I respect your in-depth knowledge of harriers and grouse, but one aspect you mention that I am rather sceptical about, is this idea about harriers disrupting shoots. I suspect it is just another add-on myth by gamekeepers and grouse moor managers to reinforce the image of harriers as “a menace” (a term I hear used frequently in reference to raptors and other predators). Disturbance by a harrier may happen occasionally, but in my experience probably only very rarely, because in many years of watching harriers hunting across grouse moors I have only ever witnessed it happening twice. In both instances it was when grouse had gathered into large flocks after heavy snow. The truth is nothing disrupts grouse more than a driven grouse shoot, which is like semi-organised chaos. Apart from that, there are two versions of the disruption by harriers – one that the birds are made nervy and difficult to drive effectively, the other being that they are disturbed off the moor altogether. If the latter is the case, isn’t it swings and roundabouts in that grouse could actually be disturbed from elsewhere into wherever the drive is taking place? I have closely observed many shoots in my time, and have never seen a harrier coming between the butts and the beaters. They usually keep their distance to avoid human activity, although some do have a fatal habit of approaching a single walker, as if curious, who can turn out be an opportunist gamekeeper with a gun, or a member of a royal family.

  10. January 17, 2018 at 11:25 am

    The trial can be stopped at any stage if….‘there is higher than expected mortality of birds post release’

    Any scientist who takes part in this has lost any credibility.
    The whole plan is based on the continuation of raptor crime.
    If this plan was in place and the raptor killing stopped then the numbers of Hen Harriers would reach high numbers within a decade. If the criminality stopped moving chicks wouldn’t effect the overall numbers, it should be the same as if the chicks were raised on the moors, it should be a population explosion, as at Langholm.
    Everyone knows this would not be tolerated by the raptor killers.
    If there isn’t a population explosion we know that the killing continues. If ‘higher than expected mortality’ does not predict this explosion we know it is a sham.
    I know already.

  11. 13 dave angel
    January 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    If there were only three successful breeding attempts in England last year then how is this scheme going to get over the starting line?

    • 14 Paul V Irving
      January 17, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      If there were only two pairs in the whole of England but they nested within 10km of each other and the land owner wanted brood meddling one pair would indeed be brood meddled. This is not conservation it is population limitation through density control.

  12. January 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    What has to be uncertain here is how returned harriers will fare on the moors – they’re clearly not going to be welcomed by the shooting fraternity. Just as important is their ability to survive in normal conditions, persecution free, anyway. It’s not as if they will be imprinted by the area of birth. The breeding pair themselves, of course, will still be at the mercy of landowner, when the young have been removed. Could the situation arise where nest locations aren’t known about even although the landowner may have signed up ? There seems to me, to be inadequate independent or third party involvement. There’s so many opportunities to limit transparency. The one thing that can come from this is that, with reasonable publicity, scrutiny on the moors and how they operate will escalate. It will be interesting to see how they themselves portray this.
    For the sat-tags to be described as a “new” type should, in itself, set alarm bells ringing. There should be no question of “meddling” going ahead without a fully approved, tried and tested tagging system, with third party oversight to the operation of that system.

  13. 16 Dougoutcanoe
    January 17, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    It sounds like, “The End is Nigh” for our hen harriers in the grouse moors of England. The criminals will see the meddling as an excuse to kill harriers.

    A disgusted supporter of raptors and all other natural wildlife.

  14. January 17, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    I am so cynical that i believe the only reason they are saying they will release birds in similar habitat is to avoid IUCN guidelines. They are avoiding it being labelled as a translocation which can not be justified on the grounds of economics.
    ‘Motivations such as experimenting solely for academic interest, …attracting funding or public profile, or moving organisms to facilitate economic development are not regarded here as conservation purposes’

    and on these grounds
    ‘7.1 Selecting release sites and areas
    A release area should:
    • Be appropriate habitat for the life stage released and all life stages of the species,
    • Be adequate for all seasonal habitat needs,
    • Be large enough to meet the required conservation benefit,
    • Be adequately isolated from sub-optimal or non-habitat areas which might be sink areas for the population’

    Lowland re-introduction and this licensed persecution (meddling) both take away from any real action to protect raptors and moorland habitat so should be stopped on the basis that they also ignore the Socio-economic risk of:
    ‘Indirect ecological effects that could threaten food supplies or ecosystem services such as clean water, erosion control, pollination, or nutrient cycling’

    Incidentally as an addition to my previous post on the guidelines
    https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2013-009.pdf (well worth a read).
    The guidelines includes another phrase (and several like it) which to me rules out the lowland HH introduction
    ‘Any proposed translocation should have a comprehensive risk assessment with a level of effort appropriate to the situation’.

    • January 17, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Incredibly they do think they are following IUCN guidelines! RPUK mentioned that as it was a trial they are claiming that the guidelines don’t apply, in which case they are cherry picking which guidelines fit and which don’t.

      From the Technical assessment:
      ‘2 Release site suitability
      The IUCN guidelines states that release sites should be located to allow the birds
      to exploit the surrounding habitat quickly and in an area that meets the species requirements. The
      proposals meet these requirements in line with the IUCN guidelines and would not pose an adverse
      risk to the conservation status. ‘

      Strange that they forgot the IUCN guidelines that:
      ”There should generally be strong evidence that the threat(s) that caused any previous extinction have
      been correctly identified and removed or sufficiently reduced.’
      and
      ‘A release area should:
      • Be adequately isolated from sub- optimal or non-habitat areas which might be sink areas for the population’

  15. January 17, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    ‘Goes to prove NE and Defra are firmly in the pockets of the shooting lobby’….Accidental Activist has said it all in plain English with these few simple but accurate words.

  16. January 17, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    From the linked Summary of brood meddling
    ‘There is no satisfactory alternative to undertaking a scientific trial to investigate the effects of brood management on hen harrier numbers in the English uplands’
    What they mean is no alternative which will satisfy the criminals and the MA.
    i.e, no Operation Artemis, no diversionary feeding, no licensing, no allowing of surveillance, well basically no obeying the law.

  17. 21 Iain Gibson
    January 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    This could be the most ineffective ‘action plan’ ever concocted by a government department, and one has to come to the conclusion that Defra and Natural England in this instance are completely unfit for purpose. The scientists who drafted the experiment should be thoroughly ashamed of their involvement. I can’t help but be cynical and think that they must be in it for the money or the kudos, rather than indulging in altruistic professionalism or a genuine desire to conserve the Hen Harrier. Either that or they are incompetent fools despite their academic credentials. Where is the “magic harrier tree” that is going to supply the broods for this meddling scheme? Only three pairs bred in England in 2017, none of them on grouse moors. It is unrealistic to anticipate that any nest would qualify for brood meddling unless there is an unprecedented, almost overnight, rapid recovery of the English harrier population. There may be a tactical advantage in gamekeepers leaving the birds alone in order to get the plan moving, which would still take years before the experiment could be initiated, but on an individual basis I’d expect they would be more likely to continue killing any harriers on their own patch, leaving it to others to take what they consider to be the risk. It is a ruthlessly competitive business. The consequence is highly likely that the project will not get off the ground, because the fundamental culture of game keepering will not change overnight. Realistically, this scheme is about as hare-brained as is possible, and a disgraceful waste of public service resources. It will do nothing to change the shameful status of breeding Hen Harriers in England.

    • January 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      ‘It is unrealistic to anticipate that any nest would qualify for brood meddling unless there is an unprecedented, almost overnight, rapid recovery of the English harrier population’

      Surely if for example, gamekeepers were all drafted into the army (sorry but that is more likely than a thought experiment where DGM gamekeepers actually stopped the killing), then it is perfectly realistic.
      I don’t know about Yorkshire but in Bowland there are roaming birds all winter and if they weren’t shot in the spring i’m sure they could nest within 10km.
      Based on Bowland i am assuming that Hen Harriers are being killed in their dozens every year in England.

    • 23 Mike Whitehouse
      January 17, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      Iain, I always read your very knowledgeable submissions with great interest, none more so than this one. I totally agree with every detail you put forward. Unless they can conjure up Hen Harriers from thin air, this and the HHAP will eventually be seen for what they are, a pitiful irrelevant distraction, and a complete waste of time and money.

      Unfortunately the people involved can carry out this nonsense with only their reputation at stake.

  18. January 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Shocking stuff from the e-mails. Brood meddling the same pair is OK if it is in the same year!! This really is a war on Hen Harriers.

    ‘What has been planned to address the risk of nesting birds laying a second clutch if the first clutch is removed as part of the brood management scheme trial?

    By removing the eggs later the chance of recycling (laying a second clutch) is greatly reduced

    In theory the second clutch could also be removed, a decision on the desirability of that would need to be taken by the BM trial group.

    Your application form and the associated appendices refer to possible taking of both eggs and chicks and there is some inconsistency in the additional information supplied with the application.
    Please clarify whether you are proposing to take chicks as well as eggs under this licence?
    We would prefer to take eggs and that will be the default position. However it would be desirable to reserve the ability to take chicks should a nest be discovered late.’

    • January 17, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      The e-mail answer above contradicts the Additional Conditions document.
      ‘AC13
      . No hen harrier pair can be subject to brood management on successive nesting attempts, whether in the same year, or from year to year. ‘

    • January 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Prasad,

      That’s not quite accurate. Don’t pay too much attention to what was discussed in the emails – those conversations took place while the licence application was being prepared.

      To understand the final licence conditions, you need to read the project brief and the conditions attached to the licence.

  19. January 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    I don’t see the words Special Protection Area anywhere. Don’t they need a derogation from the EU to remove classified species ( potentially the entire population) from these international sites?..

    Did they ever justify the 10km radius? 2-7km is the normal consideration of a HH range.

    I can see the gamekeepers having a hotline to the sat data.. .”This is keeper 45 to CA1…i have my sights on a male harrier….do I have clearance or not?”

    NE are a bunch of charlatans.

    • January 17, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      SPAs are specifically mentioned, and a condition of the licence is that any eggs/chicks removed from a HH-designated SPA (i.e. Bowland Fells SPA and North Pennines SPA) MUST be released back to within the boundary of that SPA.

      There is also some interesting discussion about the 10km nest threshold. The NE ornithologist who reviewed the licence application makes it clear that this threshold is only accetable for the purposes of this trial (given the time constraints) but would not be appropriate for a long-term brood meddling strategy.

      Agreed, it is great concern that the Moorland Association and GWCT will have access to the sat tag data, and presumably will have some input on what information is made public.

  20. January 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I hope i’m not the only one who thinks that politics are being used to subvert common sense?
    It is awfully convenient that this issue is devolved. They can treat Hen Harriers in England as being critically endangered. Of course they are but because of the law and money/class issues not by biology.
    It is very convenient that they can pretend that the English and Scottish birds are separate because then they have an excuse for extreme measures; they argue that case in the documents.
    I am pro independence but here this devolved issues is being used as a pawn in the MA/DEFRA/NE arsenal.

    Hen Harriers aren’t under threat from environmental problems but by criminals. Stop the crime and the Scottish, Welsh and IOM birds would very quickly expand and blossom (sorry can’t use words ‘explode’ or ‘boom’) in England. English Hen Harriers will never be truly extinct unless they are first extinct throughout the British Isles. Hen Harriers don’t recognise boundaries but by pretending that English Hen Harriers exist in isolation gives them the chance to commit this act of eco-vandalism.

  21. January 17, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    From the Technical Assessment:

    ‘If persecution occurred, the knowledge of participating land would be required to be able to attribute this to the success or failure of brood management, and thus decide whether to stop the trial. For example, with the current map if dispersing juveniles or parent birds were repeatedly discovered shot on land shown as the “trial area” then the trial might be halted. In these circumstances, the trial could be shown to be successful and be used as evidence for a trial extension if a more accurate map showed that the land where mortality occurred had not chosen to participate in the trial in advance.’

  22. 34 Mick
    January 17, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    So it won’t be happening then, it would take longer than two years for harriers to build up numbers acceptable for them to brood manage and none of these will be on grouse moors. These fools really can’t see past the end of their noses. How do they get jobs in conservation when they obviously have not got a clue what it means. They are going to take young and rear them in a cage then release them back on the moors, how long are they going to do this for, until grouse shooting is banned because that is the only answer to all this. I can’t believe these idiots are still in a job, they should be in prison

  23. 35 JohnM
    January 17, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Gerard’s point is paramount. With just three pairs nesting, and thousands of square miles of available/potential nesting area to go at, the probability that 2 of those 3 end up less than 10km from one another is negligible. It would still be negligible with 5 times that many pairs.

  24. 36 Dylanben
    January 17, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Under this crazy scheme, the young birds would spend what are probably the most important and formative months of their lives in captivity. They would be deprived of any beneficial assistance which their parents might otherwise have given them in terms of honing their hunting skills. They will be fed artificially and then released and expected to fend for themselves back in bandit country at the beginning of the grouse shooting season. It is bad enough that someone thought up this bizarre process in the first place. Even more so that it should receive official backing – albeit that it is NE giving itself the go-shead.

    Given the shortage of Peregrines in grouse moor areas in the North of England, attributable to the same cause as the plight of the Hen Harrier, maybe this species is next in line for such a hare-brained scheme! Indeed, given the dearth of breeding pairs of Peregrines in these areas, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear that they’re already planning a ‘trial’ (thereby facilitating a circumvention of IUCN guidelines) to take young Peregrines from nests on city tower-blocks and put them through the same process as the young HHs in the brood meddling scheme. Or maybe I shouldn’t put ideas into their heads!

  25. 37 Simon Tucker
    January 17, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Fox hunting, hare coursing, badger cull, seal shooting, bird of prey persecution, corvid slaughter, “predator control”: what do they all have in common? 1. Unjustified but using anecdotal lies and propaganda to justify; 2. Tory donors, politicians and supporters are the most likely participants; 3. They think they are above the law; 4. They are effectively above the law, because the judicial system is corrupted by lack of resources and good old-fashioned graft and greed.

  26. January 18, 2018 at 12:23 am

    If you want this stopped then your best angle is to attack the waste of public money involved – I can understand the desire to pick at the academic detail but thats just playing their game….The best comment above is from Robert Moss – the academics dancing to the tune of the landowners and their shooting government pals will only be stopped by an all party attack on this idiotic wasteful harebrained scheme. Get some political backing now.

    • 39 heclasu
      January 18, 2018 at 3:38 am

      That about sums it up Dave!

    • 40 Iain Gibson
      January 18, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      I agree about the urgent need to achieve political backing, but can’t help but feel that an “all party attack” is unlikely. The Tory friends of field sports will support the scheme because the so-called compromise is heavily biased towards the shooting lobby’s desire to prevent harrier populations from achieving their potential. The best I think we can hope for is a united opposition from Labour and the Greens. If the hidden agenda is eventually to extend the plan to Scotland, it is even less likely that the current SNP Government would be on the conservation side, given their enthusiast support for The Gift of Grouse.

  27. 41 Nimby
    January 18, 2018 at 12:30 am

    If the Moorland Association really are funding this exercise then I’m very surprised that they’ve not shouted this from the roof tops, may I ask if ‘we’ have seen any evidence (agreement or otherwise) that they will be paying £875,000 over the five years?

    Quite astonished that the IBPC is putting its reputation at risk for this PR stunt, surely they value their work more than this, once a ‘brand’ is damaged it is very hard to recover – mud sticks?

    As for Defra and Michael Gove permitting this is very revealing, that they will not address illegal raptor persecution speaks volumes?

    Bradford MDC saw sense on their land on Ilkley Moor, another victory for common sense as well as demonstrable public benefit, so I’m pretty sure that this will fuel the determination of those of us who seek to hold government to account for failure to address wildlife crime ….

  28. 42 Nimby
    January 18, 2018 at 10:39 am

    If Natural England are the licencing agents is there a paper trail of consultation with a wide authoritative experts knowledgeable in the issue?

    Oh, just remembered the RSPB pulled out …. now that has to be indicative that it must be a seriously bad plan (for conservation) if they step back. RSPB will bend over backwards to accommodate ‘balance’ but eventually they saw reality and acted, so are NE fit for purpose anymore?

  29. 45 Secret Squirrel
    January 19, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Is it just me that sees 5this as self perpetuating? Two pairs within 10km, so brood meddled, young birds then released back into area, thus increasing density of HHs in that area, so potentially more than one pair withn 10km the next year, so meddled again etc etc.


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