2nd brood meddled hen harrier chick vanished from grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park

Following earlier blogs about the two ‘missing’ brood meddled hen harriers (here), one of which vanished on a grouse moor in County Durham on 9th September 2019 (here), further detail has now emerged about the loss of the second harrier.

Here’s a press statement published this afternoon by North Yorkshire Police:

Appeal for information about a missing satellite-tagged hen harrier

Police are appealing for information about a missing satellite-tagged hen harrier.

The young male bird was tagged at its release site in the Yorkshire Dales on 30 July 2019, as part of the hen harrier brood management scheme. The bird had not been named, but is known to the Natural England monitoring team as 183704.

It is known from satellite tag data that the bird had recently spent a few days in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. On the morning of 19 September it had spent time near Thirlmere in the Lake District, before passing through the Mallerstang Common area in the afternoon. At 6.03pm that same evening the last transmission from the tag was received in the Seavy Gutter area of Askrigg Common, but the bird could have flown on for some distance since the last transmission.

Since then no further transmissions have been received from the tag. Natural England field staff have carried out checks with a hand-held scanner and monitored known roost sites, but the bird has not been found.

North Yorkshire Police have carried out two searches, the first being an initial search in the area of the last known transmission, and the second being a more extensive search covering several square kilometres, along with local enquiries. There have been no further sightings of the harrier or transmissions from the tag. Farmers, land owners and gamekeepers in the area have given both Natural England and North Yorkshire Police full cooperation with the search.

The bird is a juvenile male and will still be brown in colour. The bird was ringed and will bear the BTO ring number EA54306.

At this time North Yorkshire Police are keen to locate the bird safe and well, but if found deceased the bird can be subject to post mortem to establish if the cause of death was from natural causes or predation, or if criminal activity was involved.

If you find the bird or have any information please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote reference number 12190177425.


At least this police press release doesn’t include a ridiculously glowing estate testimonial (unlike this one) but what’s all this about ‘Farmers, land owners and gamekeepers in the area have given both Natural England and North Yorkshire Police full cooperation with the search‘? So what? Why is that information included? When do you ever see this type of information in any other police appeal for information?

‘Police are investigating a burglary at 123 Letsbe Avenue and the homeowner has given full cooperation with the investigation’.

‘Police are investigating an assault on a dog walker in Dodge Country Park and the park rangers have given full cooperation with the investigation’.

The police (and Natural England and DEFRA for that matter) need to stop pandering to the game shooting industry, which is well known to harbour a criminal element, and just report on the facts of the case.

That gripe aside, this is a decent press statement from North Yorkshire Police and provides useful detail about the date of the tag’s last known transmission and the location. That another satellite-tagged hen harrier has vanished in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park will come as no surprise to anybody. This National Park is a dark pit of persecution for most birds of prey that dare to fly there.

Askrigg Common is marked with a red star on this map:

The Seavy Gutter area of Askrigg Common is circled:

At least part of Askrigg Common is used for driven grouse shooting and the shooting rights appear to be owned by the neighbouring Gunnerside Estate, who in 2015 applied for planning permission for a beaters lunch hut, claiming amongst other things that this building would be in the ‘public interest through the economic and social benefits associated with the shooting activities run by the Estate‘! See: Planning consent Gunnerside lunch hut 2016

As ever, with no hen harrier corpse and no tag, it is impossible for this bird’s disappearance to even be recorded formally as a crime, even though the Government’s very own commissioned research has shown that the 72% of young satellite tagged hen harriers that have vanished in suspicious circumstances are most likely to have been illegally killed on grouse moors.

This is the pitiful state of hen harrier conservation in the UK in 2019.

21 Responses to “2nd brood meddled hen harrier chick vanished from grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park”

  1. 1 Paul V Irving
    October 8, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Same old same old, bird disappears and is not even crime statistic the bastards are laughing at us. DEFRA need to show some spine and kill the whole daft scheme ASAP

    • 2 Barney
      October 8, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      Can’t agree more Paul and it’s Yorkshire once again and an area you know all about, ban the sickening pass time because it’s riddled with crime

  2. 3 Philip Lanczak
    October 8, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    How close are we to having the latest tech sat tags, shrunken versions of the type used on Golden Eagles ? It is quite obvious that the current tags limitations are well known to the ones who wish to exploit this, and they do so with some skill don’t they ? Waiting for them to make an error is not helping Harriers , the game needs to be upped.

    • 4 Peter Howe
      October 8, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      I feel that with advancing technology, I’m sure that soon we shall be hearing something that may help turn the tide on theses sickening events?

  3. 5 Valerie Foster
    October 8, 2019 at 7:35 pm

  4. 7 Jimmy
    October 8, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    So utterly predictable – what nonsense to indulge xxxxxx estates will NE come up with next I wonder??

  5. October 8, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Not that it is important but the map given by MA and posted on the first RPUK blog doesn’t show a bird visiting Thirlmere (unless there is a Thirlmere away from Helvellyn).

  6. 9 Loki
    October 8, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    That struck me when I read the police statement – the ridiculous entry about the landowners etc cooperating fully.
    It actually concerned me that they took the decision to write that.
    I now wonder if the police in that area are colluding with the estates.

    • 10 TaddyOfKentoo
      October 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Its no secret ..Police from the North Yorkshire force are active members of the shooting fraternity!

      [Ed: do you have any evidence to support this claim, please?]

  7. 11 John Clare
    October 8, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    I wonder what the first thought to pass through a keeper’s mind might be when he discovers that the harrier he’s just shot has a tracker on it?

    • October 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      And soon hopefully a real time camera pointed at his iris.
      But as an afterthought they will just wear dark glasses with their balaclavas.
      There really is no way to catch these bastards so we must ban it now.

  8. 13 Bob Smith
    October 9, 2019 at 10:38 am

    This disappearance is saddening I cycled through this are north to Scotland in May this year and did not see a single raptor until crossing the border at Wooler. Hard to believe given large numbers of rabbits seen

    • 14 Lizzybusy
      October 13, 2019 at 4:52 am

      Wooler! I’ve reported poisoned rabbits, deer and other animals caught with locking snares, a deer caught in a snare on a drag log which was bouncing after it, a deer skeleton with a snare with a loose stopper looped around it’s hind leg – the bone of which had grown around the snare!

      Woofer isn’t a safe area for wildlife!

  9. 15 Chris S Balchin
    October 9, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Unfortunately this was predictable, do they publish information on the whereabouts of the other three birds, if not why not. There may already be a technical solution that would answer the question once and for all, as well as the main tracker could a second lighter and simpler one also be fitted. It only needs to send an update once a day. Both failing together would mean only one cause. Also I have said elsewhere, the Beijing cuckoo and swift projects think failures of the trackers are rare, also they say that companies that manufacture them argue strongly against suggestions they fail in the field, not surprising when they cost over £3000. What do the tracker manufacturers have to say about the ones fitted on Hen Harriers?

  10. 16 Jill Willmott
    October 9, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    When chicks are ringed and have sat trackers attached, could a microchip also be implanted? Might help a bit.

  11. October 10, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Lean our wildlife in peace and free from persecution 🥵🥵

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