13
Jan
21

48 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018

In September 2020 I blogged that at least 45 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed illegally killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 48 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed illegally killed since 2018, after the recent news (here, here and here) that three more satellite-tagged hen harriers have ‘disappeared’ since September 2020.

Here’s the blog that’ll be published every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

To illustrate this fact, I intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that I know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged hen harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

I only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June 2020 when I learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It has since been updated a few times as we found out about more satellite-tagged hen harriers that had vanished during lockdown in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairnorms National Park (here), on a notorious grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (see here) and on a grouse moor believed to be involved with the brood meddling in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as I’ve learned of yet another three satellite-tagged hen harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, only revealed after an FoI request to Natural England who seem reluctant to let the public know about these ongoing losses. I can’t think why. Some might think NE’s silence was connected to a financial agreement it made recently with representatives from the grouse shooting industry. That would be a preposterous suggestion – as ridiculous as Natural England removing hen harrier chicks from the moors at the behest of the grouse shooting industry and calling it conservation. It’d never happen, right?

That brings the gruesome tally to 48 hen harriers. I’m still waiting to hear whether three hen harriers, satellite-tagged by Natural England this year and have since vanished (here), are being treated as suspicious disappearances by the police and if so, they will be added to this list. I’m also aware of at least one ongoing police investigation that has yet to be publicised so that bird will also be added to this list if the circumstances dictate it’s appropriate.

Four eight.

Forty eight.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 48:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

19 September 2020: Hen harrier Harold ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants conservationists to stop fitting satellite tags?


10 Responses to “48 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018”


  1. 1 Peter Hack
    January 13, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    As these birds are shot in what is clearly a war on them perhaps “Missing in Action” due to “Government InAction” and Unconscious Collusion would be more pertinent ? A debate on whether this is conscious or unconscious collusion would be interesting …

  2. 2 Greyandblue
    January 13, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Ian Botham wrote a piece in the Telegraph the other day, where he claimed he was a ‘country person’, members of which club apparently are wholly innocent traditionals, including ‘persecuted’ gamekeepers and banged on about how them townies know nothing about country living with it’s fine traditions. He thinks those working in and supporting the shooting industry are maligned and actually do not slaughter wildlife or degrade the environment, things which those idiots who dont partake, accuse them of. I wanted to appraise him of some facts but judging by many of the hideously supportive comments sub piece I’d have been verbally slaughtered, so didn’t bother. He is an imbecile.

    • 3 John L
      January 14, 2021 at 9:42 am

      Ian Botham was born in the town of Heswall on the Wirral. His family then moved to the town of Yeovil when he was a child. He spent the majority of his life playing cricket, and retired from cricket in 1993. He then went on to become involved in the media, where he worked for Sky Sports. I understand he did at one time own a residence in the village of Ravensworth in North Yorkshire. He lists his interests other than cricket as angling and shooting, and I understand may own a grouse moor?

      Most of the country people I know, would say moving from a town to the countryside and buying a Barbour jacket and a pair of green wellies just makes you….. er ……a “townie” dressed up posh…. another “know nowt full o’ fancy ideas”!!

      He comes across as a very arrogant individual, and was accused of such by BBC Radio 5 listeners following a radio interview in 2017.
      The Spectator Magazine once published an article which described Ian Botham as a fool. (issue 28)

      I don’t think these credentials add any credibility to what he writes or says, so I am puzzled why a newspaper such as the Telegraph would want to publish such nonsense?

      (Ed, please delete /amend any parts which you think are libellous…I have fact checked as best as possible!)

  3. 4 The Undeluded One
    January 13, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Natural England should have a New Year resolution of openness and honesty with regard to hen harriers. Is that too much to ask Mr Juniper?

  4. 5 Alan Dickinson
    January 13, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Laws are of absolutely no use if they are not enforced the people running these shoots KNOW they will not get any trouble at all so this is never going to stop
    unless some person can catch these buggers at it.
    I read recently that the police have evidence that the drag hunts had found and discussed online how to kill foxes and that this information was in the hands of police .
    What happened did anyone get charged with conspiracy to break the law ???
    I dont think so .
    When the law is not enforced it is meaningless this is one of the reasons alot of people no longer have any respect for the police.

    • 6 Sue Bliss
      January 13, 2021 at 6:34 pm

      Hi Alan. Just to correct you on the fox hunting issue. You are right there is a police investigation. However, it is so called trail hunting that is the issue – invented by the hunts to get round the 2004 hunting act. Drag hunting is a legitimate form of hunting. And my understanding of drag hunting is that there is no kill and therefore legitimate. Please join the campaign against so called trail hunting where many foxes get hunted and killed. Thank you.

  5. 7 John Cantelo
    January 13, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    I’m sure this question has been asked before but is there any way in which these figures can be extrapolated to indicate what the overall death toll is likely to be, if only as a ‘ballpark figure’. With almost 50 cases in two years, it must surely run into several hundred. Given the tendency of HH to wander, is there any evidence that the decline on the continent (as shown in the recent European atlas) could to any degree be attributed to birds being shot in the UK?

    • 8 WTF
      January 13, 2021 at 7:40 pm

      Hi John. I’ve asked the question previously, but I don’t recollect anyone coming up with a guesstimate of the true figure. As you say, it must be well into three figures. An informed estimate of the relative annual numbers of tagged and untagged young should enable a rough total figure to be calculated.

      • January 14, 2021 at 7:18 pm

        Brian Etheridge calculated 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).

        Ref: Etheridge, B., R. W. Summers, and R. E. Green. “The Effects of Illegal Killing and Destruction of Nests by Humans on the Population Dynamics of the Hen Harrier Circus Cyaneus in Scotland.” Journal of Applied Ecology 34.4 (1997): 1081-105. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2405296?

  6. 10 Gerard
    January 14, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    And remember that the 48 are out of those bearing satellite tags. There are also the other that we don’t know about.


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