13
Sep
18

3 more satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ – all on grouse moors

You could set your clock by the regularity of these reports. In news that will shock absolutely no-one, the RSPB has announced the sudden and inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of three young satellite-tagged hen harriers.

All three had hatched this year, all three had vanished before the end of August, and in all three cases the tag’s last known fix came from a driven grouse moor.

Photo of Hen Harrier Octavia, by Steve Downing:

Read the RSPB blog here

The three ‘missing’ harriers are Hilma (1), Octavia (2) and Heulwen (3).

[RPUK map]

According to the RSPB blog, Hilma’s last known tag fix was on 8 August 2018 ‘near Wooler, Northumberland over land managed for driven grouse shooting’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be on the Lilburn Estate. We’ve blogged about the Lilburn Estate recently (see here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Hilma’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?

According to the RSPB blog, Octavia’s last known tag fix was on 26 August 2018 on ‘privately owned grouse moors near Sheffield’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be the Broomhead Estate in the Peak District National Park. We’ve blogged about the Broomhead Estate quite recently (here, here and here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Octavia’s last known location. The rectangular strips of burnt heather give the game away a bit, eh?

According to the RSPB blog, Heulwen’s last known tag fix was on 29 August 2018 ‘in the vicinity of Ruabon Mountain’.

From the map on the RSPB blog, we believe this to be the Ruabon grouse moor. We’ve blogged about this grouse moor recently (see here, here).

Here’s a close up map of the habitat at Heulwen’s last known location:

And cue obfuscation, denial and deflections from the grouse shooting industry’s social media trolls, deathly silence from the grouse shooting industry’s representative bodies, and wilful blindness (and continued silence) from DEFRA, Michael Gove MP, Therese Coffey MP, Natural England and anyone else who thinks we’re stupid enough to believe that the HH Action Plan is helping hen harrier population recovery.

Cartoon by Gerard Hobley

 

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39 Responses to “3 more satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ – all on grouse moors”


  1. 1 Valerie Webber
    September 13, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I have no words :(

  2. September 13, 2018 at 10:52 am

    When will these people be brought to the full justice of the law and not let off with a slap on the wrist, this is unacceptable.

  3. September 13, 2018 at 11:08 am

    That is one hell of a good bit of journalism! RPUK is building up a watertight case against the killers and their apologists.
    Any intelligent government would have to act.
    If Ruth doesn’t get the RSPB Nature of Scotland award, …well let’s wait and see..

    • 6 David Parkin
      September 13, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Shocking? Yes.
      Surprising? No.
      Just shows, though. Money shouts louder than conservation.
      Ruth will be in Notts on 7 December – ‘An evening with Ruth Tingay’.
      Should be lively and maybe a glass of something special to celebrate the RSPB award.
      I’ll bring one anyway!
      More power to your elbow, Ruth!

  4. September 13, 2018 at 11:17 am

    RPUK, are there any plans of a joint map of RSPB suspicious failed tags and the NE data?
    Ditto one superimposed on raptor crimes?
    if so, any time-scale?
    if not, please!!

    • 9 Homer Simpson
      September 13, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      We only have a rough idea where many of the RSPB birds have gone down, a quick search found mention of 37 RSPB tagged birds (not including the class of 2018). 6 – alive, 6 – recovered dead natural causes, 4 – found dead persecution, 1 – found dead suspicious, 1 – tag failed, 3 – missing abroad not recovered, 16 – missing fate unknown.
      The recently published RSPB persecution maps show a similar pattern to the missing harriers, IE where harrier disappearances are grouped, the maps show persecution hotspots.
      There are likely other data sets that can be matched up with pattern of the disappearing tagged HH’s. Might come back to this at a later date.

  5. 10 Rita
    September 13, 2018 at 11:55 am

    When is the grovement going to do something about these Driven grouse moors farms
    For GODSAKE these are chicks 🐥 why can’t they coexist
    It’s time this blood sport is banned for the sake of all wildlife who live on the land

  6. 11 Graham Barlow
    September 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Impressive campaigning site. This article has been shared widely already. You must be making a difference.

  7. 12 frank hopkin
    September 13, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    I live in Northumberland 35 miles from this moor and have birdwatched it and nearby Harthope valley for many years.I know of Lilburn estate and have a some knowledge of Northumberland Police Wildlife performances over the years and the Merlin case and now the Hen Harrier disappearance does not surprise me one little bit.Northumberland is a rotten place to be if your a Raptor![

  8. 13 Eric
    September 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    One wonders how many un-tracked raptors disappeared in the same areas. This is probably the tip of the iceberg.

    • 14 Dougoutcanoe
      September 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Almost certainly, the criminals now have sophisticated equipment to track down animals they want to kill.

      Doug

    • September 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      It can’t be repeated often enough that Brian Etheridge demonstrated that 55-74 females Hen Harriers are killed each year in Scotland alone, which is 11-15% of the UK population of breeding females and that figure does not include males or immatures (Etheridge et al. 1997)
      http://www.jstor.org/stable/2405296?
      So tip of the iceberg undoubtedly.

      • September 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

        Thanks for that reference, anandprasad. I’ll perhaps use some of the figures in my petition submission. Some of the numbers in the research are even worse than I expected. It is clear that nothing has changed in the last 20 years.

  9. 17 Dougoutcanoe
    September 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    The lack of prosecutions even when caught red handed are down to very deep wealthy pockets. They can buy their way out of court.

    Friends in high places? Answer, quite likely, government, judiciary and police.

    Banning will not happen until we have a government that cares for all they govern. They only care for the rich, of which they are part of.

    Frustrated!!!!

    Doug

  10. September 13, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Hello.

    I have been following your campaign and website.

    I wonder if we should find out the price of a page in the times or telegraph and crowd fund it through the people that follow your blog.

    As well as the advert it would be newsworthy in its own right and could greatly expand the number of people out there that are not aware of the issue.

    What do you think?

    Richard

    On Thu, 13 Sep 2018, 10:44 Raptor Persecution UK, wrote:

    > RaptorPersecutionUK posted: “You could set your clock by the regularity of > these reports. In news that will shock absolutely no-one, the RSPB has > announced the sudden and inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of three young > satellite-tagged hen harriers. All three had hatched this year, al” >

  11. September 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Fyi full page in the times is £27,000.

    On Thu, 13 Sep 2018, 13:21 Richard Everson, wrote:

    > Hello. > > I have been following your campaign and website. > > I wonder if we should find out the price of a page in the times or > telegraph and crowd fund it through the people that follow your blog. > > As well as the advert it would be newsworthy in its own right and could > greatly expand the number of people out there that are not aware of the > issue. > > What do you think? > > Richard > > On Thu, 13 Sep 2018, 10:44 Raptor Persecution UK, comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote: > >> RaptorPersecutionUK posted: “You could set your clock by the regularity >> of these reports. In news that will shock absolutely no-one, the RSPB has >> announced the sudden and inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of three young >> satellite-tagged hen harriers. All three had hatched this year, al” >>

  12. 21 Paul Fisher
    September 13, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    How many Hen Harriers have to die to make a walk from Hyde park a success?

    Please, if there is any way at all that you can attend the Walk for Wildlife on the 22nd, please be there.
    Only we can be the voice for our wildlife. This has to be a huge event.

  13. 22 Dougoutcanoe
    September 13, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I think Richard Benyon MP owns a grouse killing estate in Northumberland. He wanted a Buzzard cull when he was a minister in DEFRA.

    [Ed: Hi Doug, we’re not aware of Richard Benyon owning a grouse moor in Northumberland, but he does have one in Scotland and it has an improving reputation over recent years]

  14. 23 frank hopkin
    September 13, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    For anyone who does not know Northumberland the named Estate is in the Northumberland National Park! Should they be made aware of these alleged crimes within their boundaries and would they “speak” to the owner Mr Duncan Davison.

  15. 24 Paul V Irving
    September 13, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    All so damned predictable, which doesn’t make it any less galling that the dark side is still killing them and getting away with it.
    Of course we were told many moons ago that if the grouse botherers could have brood meddling then the need for persecution would be gone. Well either they lied ( they seem to do that quite a lot) or some of them weren’t listening to the MA/ NGO or GWCT who said it.
    Given this the DEFRA plan should be considered dead and buried even by or is that especially by Hawk and Owl Trust and ICBP or are they as wilfully blind as our DEFRA ministers and their minions at NE?

  16. 25 Bob Berzins
    September 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I heard from a number of sources the Broomhead Agent is the Moorland Association Peak District Representative and perhaps MA could confirm if this is correct?. In light of this latest incident and other issues highlighted in blogs here does the Moorland Association regard management of Broomhead as best practice?

  17. September 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Obvious what is happening, a blind man could see it. However the law choose not to which really sums them up.

  18. September 13, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Frustrating indeed, but the rope is getting shorter !
    This war is going to be long but the mountain of evidence will eventually be crucial and the sacrificial tagged birds will save others of their species in the future.
    Politics will eventually be the raptors’ saviour, but don’t expect change any time soon.

    Keep up the pressure !

  19. 28 Jimmy
    September 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Seems like only a total ban can stop the grouse bothers criminal bent.

  20. 29 Tom Gun
    September 13, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Disgusted………..I wonder if there will be even the slightest investigation by police or NWCU

    Keep the information coming RPUK shining the light on organised killing of rare native species…………….unfortunately no ivory or rhino horn here just common old hen harriers….or eagles or goshawks or peregrines or buzzards or sparrow hawks or tawny owls or ravens or otters or badgers or wild cats or polecats or hedgehogs or mountain hares ………

    • 30 pam Aitken
      September 14, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Watching buzzards appear in Lincolnshire many years ago was thrilling, the sparrow hawks are superb the barn owl silently passing sends a sense of wonder- to find remains of these incredible creatures ( pheasant not grouse here) because it’s tradition to shoot them ( sport!😡) and to see 3 buzzards disappear in an area that’s been theirs – one presumably the offspring…!!😢

  21. 31 Jim Craib
    September 13, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    I wonder how the people who are killing these young birds manage to get close enough to shoot them.

    I walk moorland summer and winter in northern Scotland in hen harrier breeding areas and apart from when the birds are at their nests it is very rarely that a hen harrier flies within shotgun range of me.

    Therefore the most likely place for them to be killed is when they are at regularly used roosts where they can be shot coming in to roost or trapped at the spot where they roost.

    Given this scenario the only way to stop them being killed is to find the roosts and keep a discrete watch over them.

    Jim Craib

    • September 13, 2018 at 9:44 pm

      Not nessersary just using shotguns, I’ve seen the keepers xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx with some sort of rifle fitted with a telescope so feasably they don’t need to get quite so close.

      [Ed: Thanks Anthony, edited slightly to avoid potentially libellous commentary]

    • 33 Dougoutcanoe
      September 13, 2018 at 11:19 pm

      Amongst the arsenal used by the criminals are: night vision and heat sensing devices, decoys, electronic calls, traps and snares, poisons and of course guns.

      Doug

  22. 34 Alan Arblaster
    September 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    As I have spent many hours helping to protect the Hen Harriers in the Peak District it is bitterly disappointing to see Octavia has disappeared already. The NT has been working with new keepers on their land to increase bird of prey numbers only for this to happen on a neighbouring estate makes all their good work pointless!!

  23. 35 Loki
    September 14, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Just sickening. So angry!
    Away off to the walk for wildlife next weekend – £250 travel and accom, but hey – that’s only just over the price of a short-eared owl’s life, right?

  24. 36 Wildlife warrior
    September 14, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    If Cilla was here she would have two words to say Surprise Surprise


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