Posts Tagged ‘hen harrier

12
Nov
18

Satellite-tagged hen harrier Arthur ‘disappears’ near grouse moor in North York Moors National Park

RSPB press release (12/11/18):

A rare Hen Harrier has suddenly disappeared in North Yorkshire, triggering an investigation by the police and the RSPB. This is the ninth bird to disappear in suspicious circumstances in the last 12 weeks.

The bird, named Arthur, hatched from a nest in the Peak District this summer. This was the first time Hen Harriers had successfully bred in the Peak District since 2015. Arthur, along with his sister Octavia, was fitted with a lightweight satellite tag by RSPB staff as part of the Hen Harrier LIFE project, which has enabled the RSPB to track his movements since leaving the nest in July.

[Hen harrier Arthur, photo by Steve Downing]

Transmissions from Arthur’s tag showed him fledging from his nest and remaining faithful to that area in the Peak District. He then moved to the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, in mid-October before flying back north to Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. On the morning of Friday 26 October he flew onto the North York Moors National Park. He registered his last position at 0955hrs when he was just north of Lowna Bridge, near Hutton-le-Hole.

[RPUK maps showing approximate last known location of Hen harrier Arthur in the North York Moors National Park, close to Spaunton Moor, owned by George Winn-Darley, the North York Moors representative for the Moorland Association. Red star denotes Lowna Bridge]

RSPB Investigations staff searched the area of the bird’s last known location but found no sign of either a tag or a body – prompting concerns that the bird may have been deliberately killed and the tag destroyed. In August, his sister Octavia’s tag also suddenly cut out, with her last location coming from a driven grouse moor in the Peak District. No trace was found of her either. The police and the RSPB are appealing for information.

RSPB Assistant Investigations Officer Jack Ashton-Booth said: “Arthur’s last location showed he was in an upland area close to several driven grouse moors. When tagged Hen Harriers have died of natural causes in the past, the tags and bodies of the bird are usually recovered. To find no trace of Arthur or Octavia is extremely concerning. Arthur is the ninth Hen Harrier to suddenly disappear in suspicious circumstances since August. This is gravely concerning given that the species is on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England.”

Hen Harriers are one of the UK’s rarest and most persecuted birds of prey. They nest on the ground, often on moorland, and are known for their spectacular courtship display, the ‘skydance’. Like all wild birds, they are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm or disturb them. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail. But, despite full legal protection, studies show that the main factor limiting their population is illegal killing by humans.

Over 30 Hen Harriers were tagged during June and July 2018 in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project. Of those, eight birds (Hilma, Octavia, Heulwen, Thor, Athena, Stelmaria, Margot and Arthur) have since disappeared in suspicious circumstances, along with another bird, Heather, who was tagged in 2017.

Calculations based on habitat and prey availability indicate that England should be able to support around 300 Hen Harrier pairs. But this year only 34 chicks fledged from nine English nests, according to a report by Natural England. In 2017 there were only 10 chicks in the whole of England.

The RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report showed that North Yorkshire is consistently the worst county in the UK for recorded bird of prey persecution, accumulating significantly more confirmed incidents in the last five years than anywhere else. Data showed that 15 of the 55 confirmed incidents in England in 2017 took place in North Yorkshire. Since these only represent known, confirmed incidents, the RSPB believes this is just a glimpse of the true scale of the problem, and that many more crimes will have gone unreported and unrecorded.

ENDS

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09
Nov
18

We need action, not trite sound bites on social media

Yesterday was the UK’s first Rural Crime Day – a national initiative organised by the National Police Chief’s Council with a series of police-led events throughout the country to help tackle rural crime, e.g. see here.

As part of this ‘day of action’, the following was posted on the official twitter account of the Scottish Government’s Environment and Rural Economy communications team (@GreenerScotland):

Initially, this looks great. A quote from the Environment Cabinet Secretary (or probably more accurately, from one of her aides) is an indication of the Scottish Government’s interest and acknowledgement of wildlife crime, and that image of the red kite puts the focus clearly on illegal raptor persecution, even though the quote is equally applicable to all six UK National Wildlife Crime Priorities.

If a similar statement from the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove had appeared on DEFRA’s twitter feed we’d have fallen off our chairs, given the Westminster Government’s outright refusal to consider raptor persecution worthy of any political time or concern.

But just because the Westminster Government is so appallingly feeble on this issue, that doesn’t mean we should simply applaud the Scottish Government’s actions just because by comparison they look incredibly progressive.

To be clear, we’re not having a go at the Scottish Government for its efforts to raise awareness; highlighting all types of wildlife crime is always time well spent, but in the case of illegal raptor persecution, what we are criticising is the Government’s superficiality. A lack of awareness about raptor persecution is not the issue. It’s the lack of effective Government action to stamp it out. That’s the issue here.

The Scottish Government has known about illegal raptor persecution since devolution in 1999. It’s been twenty years (yes, twenty long years) since the then Secretary of State Donald Dewar described the situation as “a national disgrace” and went on to say, “The Government, and no doubt the Scottish Parliament will take all possible steps to eliminate persecution“.

Both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have indeed taken some steps, in fact many steps, including a long list of commissioned reviews, the enactment of new legislation, the provision of new civil sanctions, long-term attempts at partnership-working, and statements from a succession of Environment Ministers that illegal raptor persecution “won’t be tolerated”.

And yet, here we are, twenty years on and none of those steps have proven to be effective –  illegal raptor persecution continues relentlessly.

A trite sound bite on twitter might appease those new to this issue but it’s simply not good enough for those of us who know how deeply ineffective the Scottish Government has been at tackling these crimes.

Another even more ridiculous sound bite appeared on SNH’s official twitter feed a couple of days ago, in response to the news that another four satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ (almost certainly illegally killed) in recent weeks on Scottish grouse moors. Here’s the tweet:

Seriously? Why is SNH still pretending not to know what’s happening to hen harriers on Scottish grouse moors? The weight of evidence is overwhelming – talk about wilful blindness!

And what does, “….we will help the police to help protect Scotland’s birds of prey” actually mean? How, exactly, will SNH ‘help the police’?

It’s utter drivel. A sound bite designed to promote the misleading impression that the cause of hen harrier disappearances on grouse moors is still an unsolved mystery but on the slim chance that criminality was involved then SNH has the competence to tackle it. What tosh.

Drop the sound bites, drop the pretence and do your job, SNH. That’s what we pay you for, not to facilitate a decades-long wildlife crime spree on Scottish grouse moors.

06
Nov
18

Four more satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ on Scottish grouse moors

Press release from RSPB Scotland (6 Nov 2018):

Four rare hen harriers disappear on Scottish grouse moors: RSPB Scotland appeals for information

RSPB Scotland is appealing for information following the suspicious disappearance of four satellite tagged hen harriers over the last 10 weeks.

All of the birds were tagged at various nest sites, three this summer and one in 2017, in Scotland and Northern England as part of the RSPB’s EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project. The last known locations of all four birds were over land managed for grouse shooting.

Satellite tagging technology is increasingly being used to follow the movements of birds of prey, allowing scientists to identify areas important for their feeding, roosting and nesting. The tags are fitted by licensed, trained fieldworkers and are designed to transmit regularly, even after a bird has died. In all four cases, the tags had been functioning without any issues before they suddenly and unexpectedly stopped transmitting, suggesting criminal interference has taken place.

[RPUK map showing the last known locations of the four hen harriers before their satellite tags suddenly and unexpectedly stopped working and the birds ‘disappeared’]

The first bird to disappear, Athena, was one of a small number of chicks to fledge from a nest in Northumberland. She travelled north into Scotland, with her last known position on a grouse moor a few miles north west of Grantown on Spey in Inverness-shire, on 16thAugust.

Two of the birds were tagged on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate in Aberdeenshire this summer. Margot disappeared on 29th August, with her last known position on a grouse moor on the Aberdeenshire/Moray border, a few miles south west of the Lecht ski centre. Stelmaria was last recorded on grouse moor a few miles north west of Ballater, Aberdeenshire on 3rd September. Stelmaria’s mother was DeeCee, a hen harrier tagged by the project in Perthshire in 2016.

The fourth missing bird, Heather, was a year older than the others. She was tagged at a nest in Perthshire in 2017, and last recorded on a grouse moor to the north of Glenalmond on 24th September.

[Hen harrier Margot – photo from RSPB Scotland]

Dr. Cathleen Thomas, Project Manager for the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project said: “To have more hen harriers disappear, including three of this year’s youngsters, is devastating for all of us involved in monitoring these hen harrier chicks. These birds have vanished in similar suspicious circumstances to four other birds tagged by the project that disappeared this summer with last recorded locations on or near grouse moors in England and Wales. These eight suspicious disappearances in the past 10 weeks are a further blow for the conservation of a species whose UK population has declined by 24% since 2004.

The main factor limiting the hen harrier population in the UK is illegal killing associated with intensive management of driven grouse moors. Young hen harrier chicks already face huge survival challenges in their first few years of life without the added threat of illegal persecution.

Each year a number of the chicks tagged by the project are lost through natural predation or starvation. So far in 2018 the remains of 12 young hen harriers have been recovered. Their tags continued to transmit after they died allowing their remains to be located and for post mortems to take place. These established that they all died of natural causes.

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations for RSPB Scotland said: “Given the tiny number of hen harrier chicks tagged each year, the regularity with which they disappear, again indicates that we are only ever aware of a tiny proportion of the true number of protected raptors that are being illegally killed.

In common with so many previous disappearances of satellite-tagged birds of prey, each of these missing birds was last known to be on a moor managed for driven grouse shooting before its transmitter suddenly stopped. The picture is becoming ever more clear – in almost all cases when a tagged birds dies naturally we are able to recover its remains; if it disappears over a Scottish grouse moor, it’s never seen or heard of again.”

Information about the birds’ disappearances were passed to Police Scotland, and while local enquiries have taken place in each case, no further information on what has happened to the birds has been found. Anyone who can provide information about any of these missing birds is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or the RSPB’s raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

The criminals within the grouse shooting industry couldn’t give the Scottish Government, nor the public, a clearer message. Despite being under the closest scrutiny the industry has ever faced and with the very real threat of enforced regulation and legislation looming large, the message is still ‘screw you all, we’ll do what we like and we’ll continue to do it safe in the knowledge that we’ll never face any consequences’.

And they’d be right. They won’t face any consequences, at least not for a while. Sure, the Scottish Government is all over grouse moor management like a rash right now but we still have to sit and wait for the findings of the Werritty Review, which isn’t due to report until spring 2019. And if Professor Werritty’s review does recommend licensing grouse shooting estates to bring them under some sort of control (any control would be nice), there’ll then be more inevitable delays while consultations ensue and the dark side uses its mighty influence and power to weaken any proposals put forward.

Actual meaningful regulation, properly enforced, could still be years away. Meanwhile, the illegal killing will continue. Since the analysis was completed in January 2017 for the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review (which showed that over 40 golden eagles have vanished in recent years on or close to driven grouse moors) a further 14 satellite-tagged raptors have ‘disappeared’ in highly suspicious circumstances in Scotland, and most of them on or close to intensively managed driven grouse moors ( 4 x golden eagles, 8 x hen harriers, 2 x white-tailed eagles).

How many more will be killed before the Scottish Government brings the criminals to account?

Several of the grouse moors from where the latest four hen harriers ‘disappeared’ are of significant interest to us. We’ll be coming back to those in some more blogs later this week.

But of course this isn’t just a Scottish issue. South of the border in England and Wales already this year we’ve seen reports of another five hen harriers all ‘disappearing’ in suspicious circumstances on or close to driven grouse moors (Hilma, Octavia and Huelwen here; Thor here; Mabel here).

[RPUK map showing the last known locations of nine satellite-tagged hen harriers across the UK uplands in 2018 before their tags suddenly and unexpectedly cut out and the birds ‘vanished’]

NINE hen harriers, all gone on or close to grouse moors since August! There is no doubt that this is serious organised crime on a national scale, all exposed by the use of satellite tag technology.

Is anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry is so keen to corrode public and political confidence in the use of satellite tags?

They can hide the tags. They can hide the bodies. But they can’t hide the pattern“ (Dr Hugh Webster).

24
Oct
18

New paper from Langholm study shows effectiveness of hen harrier diversionary feeding

Diversionary feeding of hen harriers (where alternative food is provided for breeding birds to reduce the number of red grouse chicks they might otherwise have taken) has long been an option for grouse moor managers who complain that hen harriers eat ‘too many’ grouse.

This practice has been studied in depth during the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (phase 1 and phase 2).

[Photo of diversionary feeding in action at Langholm, by Laurie Campbell]

It’s been known for a while just how successful this technique can be. For example, during the Langholm 1 study the proportion of red grouse found in the diet of hen harriers where diversionary feeding was NOT in place was 12%. During the Langholm 2 study, the proportion of red grouse found in the diet of hen harriers where diversionary feeding WAS in place had dropped to between 0 – 4% (see here and here).

These findings have now been formally written up and published in the scientific journal Bird Study. Unfortunately due to publishing restrictions we’re not permitted to publish the entire paper but here’s the abstract:

It’s good to see this paper finally out and especially good to see that the lead author, as well as several co-authors, is employed by GWCT.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if, at the forthcoming High Court challenge against hen harrier brood meddling (a management option of which the GWCT is one of the biggest supporters), lawyers acting on behalf of challengers Mark Avery and the RSPB presented this paper as evidence that Natural England’s decision to licence brood meddling was unlawful because all other management options (i.e. diversionary feeding) hadn’t been exhausted?

20
Oct
18

Responses to missing hen harrier Mabel

We learned about the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged hen harrier Mabel on Thursday (here), the same day we learned about the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged hen harrier Thor (here).

As usual, we’ve been tracking the official responses of the so-called partners in the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), which was established in 2011 and one of its main objectives is to raise awareness of illegal raptor persecution.

Yesterday we blogged about the official statements made by ‘partners’ in response to Thor’s disappearance near a grouse moor in the Bowland AONB (here). These statements were made by the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF), Police Supt Nick Lyall (new Chair of the RPPDG) and Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Association (although Amanda still hasn’t got around to publishing her brass necked statement on the MA website).

[Hen harrier Thor, by Steve Downing]

At the time of writing this, there are no official response statements about Thor on the websites of the other RPPDG ‘partners’ including the National Gamekeepers Organisation, Countryside Alliance and BASC. No surprises there, silence has become the norm in these situations (e.g. see here, here, here, here), even though these groups have signed up to raise awareness of this PRIORITY crime.

So how about official responses to the disappearance of hen harrier Mabel who vanished close to a grouse moor on the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Pennines AONB?

At the time of writing we’ve only seen one response, from NERF. It’s well worth a read (here).

As for the rest of the ‘partners’, well their continued silence speaks volumes.

19
Oct
18

Responses to missing hen harrier Thor

Yesterday we were hit with the news of two missing hen harriers – ‘Thor’, a young bird tagged by the RSPB who disappeared in a wildlife crime hotspot in the Bowland AONB (here) and then later in the day, ‘Mabel’, a young bird tagged by Natural England who disappeared in a wildlife crime hotspot on the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North Pennines AONB (here).

So far there have been a couple of responses to Thor’s disappearance but nothing (yet) about Mabel.

[Hen harrier Thor, by Steve Downing]

NERF (Northern England Raptor Forum) has published a typically robust response on its website (here), pointing out the depressing predictablity of it all and highlighting the miserable performance of the Bowland AONB as an area designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for hen harriers.

Also quick to respond was Supt Nick Lyall, the new Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) which was established in 2011 as a ‘partnership’ to tackle raptor crime but so far has achieved absolutely nothing of any use.

Nick has only been in post for what seems like a couple of minutes but we’ve been impressed with his openness and his willingness to share his thoughts via his newly established blog. Yesterday evening he posted his response to the news of Thor’s disappearance – read it here.

He talks about his plans to run the first national raptor persecution workshop in November and he also discusses his previously-stated intention to break the silence of many RPPDG ‘partners’ on each raptor persecution case as it emerges, starting with Thor’s disappearance. We’ll come back to that. First we wanted to look at what he had to say about Thor.

It’s a cautiously written piece:

While it hasn’t been confirmed that this is a result of persecution, the circumstances will naturally lead people to believe this to be the case. I say this because the disappearance has occurred in a location where other hen harriers, namely Hope and Sky also disappeared without trace a few years ago under almost identical circumstances“.

He’s right not to look at Thor’s disappearance as an isolated case and to put it in to context with the disappearance of two other hen harriers (Sky & Hope) who both vanished in the same small area in 2014. However, that’s not the only reason we believe Thor’s ‘disappearance’ is as a result of persecution. Our perspective is wider and we place Thor’s disappearance in the context of all the other young hen harriers that have disappeared in suspicious circumstances on or close to driven grouse moors, time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

There is abolutely no doubt whatsoever about what’s going on here – it is serious and organised crime on a massive scale across the uplands of England, Wales and Scotland. The map below shows just a fraction of the scale in one small region of the UK. No sooner do these young birds fledge and leave their natal area, they are killed. It’s no wonder the English breeding population struggles to reach double figures when the next generation of potential breeders are so relentlessly destroyed. It’s also clear evidence why DEFRA’s ridiculous brood meddling scheme won’t work.

[RPUK map showing the last known locations of ‘missing’ Natural England satellite-tagged hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB and Bowland AONB. Red star = HH found dead & confirmed illegally killed; orange star = last known location of missing hen harriers; Black star: missing hen harrier but grid reference withheld by Natural England; orange stars 1, 2 & 3 = last known locations of RSPB-tagged hen harriers Hope, Sky and Thor; Purple star last known location of hen harrier Mabel].

Nick did manage to get statements from two of the RPPDG ‘partners’ – NERF and the Moorland Association. He says he will update his blog as other responses come in.

The statement from the Moorland Association’s Director, Amanda Anderson, deserves special attention:

We join this appeal without hesitation and it is vital the police receive any possible information. This year we have been hugely encouraged by the best hen harrier breeding season in a decade and the fact that 60% of this year’s successfully fledged chicks had help from gamekeepers. At this stage it is not known if anything has happened to Thor beyond that the tag has stopped transmitting. It is widely recognised that that there is a high natural mortality rate for young hen harriers with only two out of every ten expected to survive their first year. We all know that collaboration is the key to successful conservation. As such, enhanced transparency and greater sharing of satellite tag data from the outset of birds’ lives would be a huge step in the right direction“.

It’s a masterclass in deflection and brass neck. She paints a picture that Thor is probably ok and it’s just that his tag has stopped working and besides natural mortality is expected, but that if anything had happened to him it wouldn’t be anything to do with gamekeepers because they’ve played such a big role this year in the successful fledging of some hen harriers.

She ignores the possibility that Thor’s disappearance might be linked to illegal persecution. She ignores the long history of hen harriers vanishing in suspicious circumstances on or near driven grouse moors. She ignores the decades of scientific studies that show illegal persecution is the main factor threatening this species with breeding extinction in England and shrinking the Scottish population’s distribution. She ignores the fact that the majority of those convicted of killing raptors are gamekeepers. She ignores the fact that we’ve all seen the video evidence of what gamekeepers do to raptors when they think nobody is watching.

She then suggests that sharing satellite tag data would be a great idea. A bit like suggesting G4S should publish its timetables and routes for bank cash deliveries.

We note that Amanda’s statement hasn’t yet made it on to the Moorland Association’s website. The current news headline on that site reads: ‘Real progress being made in the fight against wildlife crime‘.

We’ll keep an eye on Nick’s blog during the day and see if any of the other RPPDG ‘partners’ can be bothered to comment.

18
Oct
18

Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappears’ near grouse moor on Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary

Hot on the heels of this morning’s news that satellite-tagged Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ in Bowland on 3 October (here), there’s now news of another one.

Hen harrier ‘Mabel’ hatched from the only nest in the Yorkshire Dales National Park earlier this year (you’ll remember, the nest that was declared by the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group and the National Gamekeepers Organisation as being located on a grouse moor, when actually it wasn’t – see here). She was satellite-tagged by Natural England.

Mabel did a bit of travelling in to Teesdale but her last satellite tag fix came from the Little Smale Gill area, north of Ravenseat Moor, on 2 October 2018. You won’t be surprised to learn that the area is close to some driven grouse moors.

North Yorkshire Police have issued the following appeal for information:

Concerns raised following hen harrier’s disappearance

Concerns have been raised about the welfare of a hen harrier which may have gone missing along the North Yorkshire – Cumbria border.

[RPUK map showing last known location of hen harrier Mabel]

Female hen harrier Mabel was one of four chicks that fledged in July 2018 from a nest site in the Cumbrian area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Along with her sibling Tom, she was fitted with a satellite tag on 10 July by Natural England.

Since fledging, Mabel has been into Teesdale and wandered as far north as Allenheads, and also spent time around the Tan Hill area.

The transmitter functioned up until 2 October 2018, with the last signal being received from the Little Smale Gill area in Cumbria, north of Ravenseat Moor – but the bird could have been further afield when something happened to Mabel or the transmitter.

[RPUK map showing the grouse moor habitat close to hen harrier Mabel’s last known location]

Hen harriers are one of the UK’s rarest birds of prey, with just three successful nests recorded in England in 2017. Like all wild birds, they are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, despite full legal protection, their numbers remain consistently very low.

A search was conducted by Natural England staff but no tag or body was found. Cumbria Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police were informed, and are making enquiries.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “I was lucky enough to spend some time monitoring Mabel’s nest site, and, despite following birds all my life, this was the very first time I’d ever seen a male or female hen harrier because they are so rare.

It is therefore particularly upsetting that one of the fledglings from the nest has inexplicably gone missing. I would urge anyone with information to come forward.”

PC Helen Branthwaite, Wildlife, Rural and Environmental Crime Co-ordinator at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “It is extremely worrying to hear of Mabel’s disappearance and that we are facing another enquiry into a missing hen harrier. With so few successful nest sites every bird that is lost has a severe impact on the conservation status of this rare bird.”

A spokesperson for Natural England said: “The sudden disappearance of the hen harrier, Mabel, is a matter of grave concern. We urge anyone with information to get in touch with North Yorkshire Police.”

Landowner farmer Andrew Brown said: “It was a pleasant surprise when Natural England staff knocked on my door and let me know these rare birds were likely to breed on my land.

The experience of watching them throughout the spring and early summer from building their nest to fledging four chicks was a real privilege.

NE gave me the chance to see them close up when they were satellite-tagged, and it was an honour to name the tagged birds Mabel and Tom after my grandparents. It is such a shame that something may have happened to Mabel. NE were keeping me regularly updated about Mabel and Tom’s whereabouts, and I was looking forward to hopefully welcoming them back next year.”

David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “There was delight from all right minded people when four hen harrier chicks fledged earlier this year in the National Park. That has been matched by the despair felt that one of the birds, Mabel, has now gone missing.

The North of England has an unenviable reputation for criminal activity in terms of raptor persecution, so it’s hard not to think the worst in this case. However, for the moment we would strongly support the efforts of North Yorkshire and Cumbria Police to find Mabel, and would urge anyone with information to contact the police as soon as possible.

Anyone with any information about the hen harrier’s disappearance should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. Alternatively, speak to the RSPB in confidence, by calling the Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

This amounts to blatant and relentless criminality. It’s happening at such a scale that it should now be defined as serious and organised crime.

[RPUK map showing the last known locations of ‘missing’ Natural England satellite-tagged hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB and Bowland AONB. Red star = HH found dead & confirmed illegally killed; orange star = last known location of missing hen harriers; Black star: missing hen harrier but grid reference withheld by Natural England; orange stars 1, 2 & 3 = last known locations of RSPB-tagged hen harriers Hope, Sky and Thor; Purple star last known location of hen harrier Mabel].

Here’s the definition of serious and organised crime from the National Crime Agency:

Serious crime planned, coordinated and conducted by people working together on a continuing basis. Their motivation is often, but not always, financial gain‘.

At last week’s wildlife crime conference in London political leaders, including our own, made a commitment to tackle the illegal wildlife trade as ‘a serious crime carried out by organised criminals’ (see here).

How bloody hypocritical when those same political leaders remain wilfully blind to the serious and organised wildlife crime happening on their own doorstep.

It’s abundantly clear to anyone with just a passing interest that the Westminster Government’s vested interests are preventing determined action against these criminals, aka The Untouchables.

UPDATE 20 October 2018: Responses to missing hen harrier Mabel (here)




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