Posts Tagged ‘hen harrier

21
Jan
19

Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘River’ disappears on grouse moor in Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire

RSPB press release (21 January 2019):

Hen harrier ‘River’ disappears in suspicious circumstances

The police and the RSPB are investigating the sudden disappearance of yet another satellite tagged hen harrier in North Yorkshire, the county with the worst reputation for bird of prey persecution.

The bird, named River, was one of several hen harrier chicks in England fitted with a satellite tag as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project last summer (2018). These lightweight tags allow the RSPB to monitor the birds after they fledge.

[Photo of hen harrier ‘River’, by RSPB]

Her tag’s last known transmission came from a driven grouse moor between Colsterdale and Nidderdale – an area with a history of bird of prey persecution – on 14 November. She was known to have been hunting and roosting in the area for several weeks. RSPB Investigations staff and North Yorkshire Police searched the area, but there was no sign of the bird or the tag. She has not been heard from since.

[Google map showing location of Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Yorkshire]

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. North Yorkshire Police investigated the disappearance, but no information has been forthcoming.

Hen harriers are rare birds which nest in moorland, especially in the uplands of Northern England and Scotland. However just nine nests were recorded in England last year, despite enough prey and habitat to support over 300 pairs. They have not successfully bred in North Yorkshire since 2007.

Over 30 hen harriers were tagged last summer in the UK. Between August and November 2018, nine of these, including a 10th bird tagged in 2017, disappeared at different locations in the UK.

Mark Thomas, Head of RSPB Investigations UK, said: “Again we have news of a disappeared harrier, again in North Yorkshire, and again last known to be on a grouse moor. Hen harriers are barely clinging on as a breeding species in England. They should be a common and joyful sight over the moorlands of North Yorkshire, however the reality is most people only know them as being rare and persecuted.

The idea that this bird may have been deliberately targeted is incredibly worrying, especially in the context of eight others which have vanished in similar circumstances. When a tagged hen harrier dies naturally, we expect the tag to continue transmitting, enabling us to find the body. This was not the case here. Instead, there was no trace of the tag or the bird, which is highly suspicious. When hen harriers disappear like this over an area with a history of raptor persecution, it’s hard not to draw conclusions.”

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. In 2012, hen harrier ‘Bowland Betty’ was found shot at nearby Colsterdale. A reward was offered but no culprit was identified.

If you have any information relating to this incident, call North Yorkshire Police on 101.

If you know about raptor persecution occurring in your area and wish to speak out in confidence, call the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form here.

ENDS

So, yet another young sat-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire. It’s becoming quite the routine, isn’t it?

Here’s an RPUK map showing the approximate last known locations of at least ten satellite-tagged hen harriers that have all ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances inside the Nidderdale AONB (yellow boundary) or neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park in recent years. The red triangle represents River’s approximate last known location and the red star represents Bowland Betty, the hen harrier that was found shot here in 2012:

Interestingly, Bowland Betty’s shot corpse was found on a grouse moor on Swinton Estate and it appears that River’s last known tag transmission was from close by.

RPUK map showing approximate last known location of hen harrier River (red triangle) and the approximate location of Bowland Betty’s shot corpse (red star):

And as anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time will know, Nidderdale AONB is also known as being a hotspot for the illegal killing of red kites. Many of them have been found shot or poisoned on or close to grouse moors throughout Nidderdale (see map below) and those doing the killing are so brazen they don’t even bother to hide the corpses, safe in the knowledge they’ll never be prosecuted.

[RPUK map: Nidderdale AONB = yellow boundary. Illegally killed red kites = red circles; sat-tagged hen harriers that have vanished in suspicious circumstances = orange stars & red triangle; illegally shot hen harrier Bowland Betty = red star]

When you look at these maps, and especially the one that combines hen harriers and red kites, you understand the relentless criminality involved and the impact these crimes can have on local, regional and sometimes national populations of some species.

And yet still, the Westminster Government refuses to acknowledge there’s even a problem, let alone the scale of it.

This year we’re encouraging blog readers to write to/email your local MP every time one of these crimes is reported. If you live in the local area, even better, but even if you live hundreds of miles away, please still take action. These are birds that you will not have the opportunity to see in your area because they’ve been ruthlessly slaughtered, usually on or close to a driven grouse moor. This is a matter of national concern but politicians won’t take notice unless their constituents raise the issue with them.

Do it, it’s easy and will take up little of your time. Just a quick and simple email is enough.

If you don’t know who your MP is, use this website to find them via your postcode HERE

Thanks

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13
Jan
19

RSPB job vacancies: raptor monitoring & protection, northern England

The RSPB is advertising a number of job vacancies to help monitor and protect birds of prey in England this year, with a particular focus on the beleagured hen harrier.

This is an opportunity to work on the very frontline of raptor conservation in the UK.

SEASONAL FIELD ASSISTANT, BOWLAND, LANCASHIRE

The RSPB is looking for a skilled and dedicated Field Officer to help monitor and protect birds of prey on the United Utilities Estate in the Bowland Fells. Located in Lancashire, the Bowland Fells are designated as a SSSI and SPA for their blanket bog and upland heath habitats and for the suite of exciting species that breed there.

The focus of this role is on monitoring and protecting Hen Harriers, Merlins, Peregrines and Short-eared Owls. Historically, Bowland was at one time the most important area in England for Hen Harriers, and the RSPB is working with Unitied Utilities and other partners to restore the population of this species to its SPA designation and back towards its historical population level. Excellent field skills and experience of monitoring and protecting upland birds of prey (including nest finding) are essential, particularly of the four named focal species. You will also have a thorough understanding of bird of prey ecology and the challenges associated with bird of prey conservation in the uplands, and apply this knowledge to your work accordingly.

Reporting to the Project Officer, you will work with him to organise the field work schedule following best practice monitoring protocols as well as health and safety protocols and have the leadership skills required to oversee the project in the event of his absence.

Closing date: 1 February 2019

For further details and how to apply, please click here

[Hen harrier photo by Mark Hamblin]

HEN HARRIER NEST PROTECTION OFFICER (x6) (NORTHERN ENGLAND)

RSPB Northern England region is looking for six seasonal flexible contract staff for the overnight nest protection of hen harriers. The posts will most likely be based in Northumberland, Cumbria or Lancashire, but with the flexibility to move elsewhere dependent on the location of a nesting attempt. The contract will be over 5 months starting around April but this will flexible depending on the nesting.

The main purpose of this team is to monitor nesting attempts to ensure the hen harrier nests have the best chance of success. This may involve carrying out overnight shifts, the time and length of these shifts to be coordinated by the line manager for the site.

Work will require long and unsociable hours in the field, often in adverse weather conditions. The nest monitoring team will need to work closely with volunteers, stakeholders, farmers and landowners on whose land part of the work may be carried out, as well as members of the general public. The nest monitoring team will need to ensure that this work is carried out in a safe manner which minimises any disturbance to the birds.

Closing date: 25 February 2019

For further details and how to apply, please click here

19
Dec
18

£50K ‘study’ reveals the bleedin’ obvious: grouse shooters & conservationists disagree on hen harrier brood meddling

Remember back in November 2016 when a series of FoI requests revealed that Natural England was prepared to waste £50K of tax payers money on a social science ‘study’ to assess attitudes towards the Hen Harrier Action Plan? See here for info.

The proposed ‘study’ was put forward by Prof Steve Redpath (Aberdeen Uni / Hawk & Owl Trust trustee / a so-called ‘independent academic’ (ha!) on the hen harrier brood meddling working group) and Dr Freya St John, an academic who at the time worked at Kent University but has since moved to Bangor University. Here is a copy of the proposal, which was also released as part of the FoI requests and here is the proposed budget:

One year later, in December 2017, we blogged about the research questionnaire that had been sent out to various organisations in the grouse shooting industry and conservation community (see here) as part of this £50k ‘study’.

Well the research results have just been published and guess what? Trust in Natural England is “limited” and individuals from the grouse shooting community disagree with individuals from the conservation community about hen harrier brood meddling. Gosh, who knew, eh?

The paper has just been published in a new journal called People and Nature, one of several journals of the British Ecological Society:

St John, F., Steadman, J., Austen, G. and Redpath, S.M. (2018). Value diversity and conservation conflict: Lessons from the management of red grouse and hen harriers in England. People and Nature (published online, 17 December 2018).

Here’s the abstract:

This is an open access paper (which means anyone can read it in full without having to subscribe to the journal) but unfortunately the link to the online paper isn’t working so we haven’t been able to read it, only the abstract. We’ve emailed the lead author to ask for a copy but received an out of office response – away until 21 January 2019.

[UPDATE 4pm: Thanks to one of our blog readers who has found a copy of the full paper online – here]

However, there was a press release about this new ‘study’, presumably to highlight the main findings in less formal language than the abstract, which reads as follows:

Hen harriers and red grouse: finding common ground in a persistent conflict

A conflict between those working to conserve numbers of hen harriers and those maintaining commercial shooting of red grouse in the English uplands has existed for decades with little sign of progress.

Drawing on work conducted in psychology, a new study published today in the journal People and Nature investigated the underlying values that hunters and conservationists hold that make it so hard to find shared solutions.

Ecological studies over the last 30 years have shown that hen harriers and other birds of prey are capable of reducing the number of grouse to such an extent that driven grouse shooting can become economically unviable. Consequently, hen harriers, although protected under UK legislation since 1952, are killed illegally on grouse moors.

Researchers from Bangor University and the University of Aberdeen surveyed a range of organisations that represent the interests of field sports (i.e. hunting, shooting, fishing) or nature conservation in England to assess their values and attitudes towards hen harriers, grouse shooting and potential management interventions.

Dr. Freya St John from Bangor University said: “We found that people who are involved in field sports and those engaged in bird conservation hold more or less opposing views about human relationships with nature, challenging our ability to find shared solutions.

Although there is general agreement about the evidence of the ecological relationships between hen harriers and grouse, there is much less agreement about the best approach to manage them.”

They found that those from shooting organisations, in contrast to people associated with conservation groups, held a view of human mastery of nature and prioritised human wellbeing over the rights of wildlife. This group expressed support for various management approaches, including brood management where eggs or young birds are removed from nests, reared in captivity and released back into the wild at fledging.

In contrast, individuals associated with conservation groups did not support brood management. However, like those associated with field sports, they did express support for continued monitoring of the hen harrier population, protection of their winter roosts, enhanced intelligence and enforcement, and diversionary feeding of harriers to reduce predation on grouse.

The results indicated that diversionary feeding was most favoured and received greatest consensus amongst the groups surveyed. To date, this is the only management technique that has been trialled and found to be effective at reducing the number of red grouse chicks eaten by hen harriers. Despite this, feeding has not been widely taken up on grouse moors.

Professor Steve Redpath of the University of Aberdeen, who will be presenting the study’s findings at the British Ecological Society’s annual conference, commented: “Our work highlights that this is a conflict between people with very different views about the management of the countryside and its wildlife.”

There is currently no formal dialogue process in place to support the management of this stakeholder conflict. Conservation organisations withdrew from previous discussions, partly because hen harriers continue to be killed illegally and have almost disappeared as a breeding species in England.

It seems unlikely that conservation organisations would be willing to return to the negotiating table unless the illegal killing of hen harriers stops“, Redpath added. “To minimise the impact of harriers on grouse, brood management was put forward, but as we see in this study, it is very controversial. Particularly whilst illegal killing of harriers persists, such a hands-on intervention is unpalatable to some.”

Steve Redpath will present the study’s findings on Wednesday 19 December 2018 at the British Ecological Society annual meeting, which will bring together 1,200 ecologists from more than 40 countries to discuss the latest research.

ENDS

What a monumental waste of our money. Natural England could have saved £50k by simply looking at the speed with which Mark Avery crowdfunded £25k to support his legal challenge against Natural England’s absurd brood meddling trial – over 900 people donated this amount within just 4.5 days! Or by looking at the ruthless efficiency with which grouse moor managers are killing young satellite-tagged hen harriers every single bloody year. The attitudes are clear enough. Instead of chucking £50k of our money at this nonsense ‘study’, Natural England could have /should have used these public funds more wisely and put them towards an effective enforcement policy to bring to justice those criminals who continue to illegally kill hen harriers.

Knowing that there’s a difference of opinion on hen harriers between the grouse shooting and conservationists is totally irrelevant to the conservation of the hen harrier; it’s illegal persecution on driven grouse moors that threatens this species’ conservation status, nothing else. We don’t need dialogue, conflict management, relationship building, shared solutions, brood meddling or anything else, just effective enforcement of the law. It’s pretty simple, or it would be if we had a government without vested interests that was prepared to do what the vast majority of its electorate expect it to do and operate a zero tolerance policy on organised crime.

[Cartoon by Gerard Hobley]

15
Dec
18

An idiot’s guide to hen harrier brood meddling, FAO Countryside Alliance & GWCT

Earlier this week we blogged about the Countryside Alliance and GWCT’s responses to the legal challenge against Natural England’s decision to licence hen harrier brood meddling (see here).

Both organisations struggled to understand why there should be resistance to this ludicrous plan, calling opposition from conservationists “extraordinary” and “odd“.

This idiot’s guide might help (thanks, Mr Carbo):

13
Dec
18

Countryside Alliance & GWCT comment on hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge

There was a reporter from The Times in court for day two of the hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge and he wrote a piece which appeared the next day:

It’s a very short but accurate account of what was going on in Court 18 of the Royal Courts of Justice.

However, this article has prompted two response letters, one from the Countryside Alliance and one from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) as follows:

It’s hard to tell whether these two are being deliberately disingenuous or simply don’t understand what’s going on. Perhaps it’s both.

Adrian Blackmore (Countryside Alliance) claims the article in The Times “misrepresented the [brood meddling] proposals“. Did it? Not from where we were sitting in court. According to Natural England’s own technical assessment of the licence application the main aims of the brood meddling trial are to (a) investigate the effect of brood management on the perceptions and behaviour of the [criminals within] the moorland community, and (b) to test the practicalities of brood management to investigate whether it can rear hen harriers in captivity and then release them to become successful breeding adults in the English uplands. That’s what The Times reported, so which bit, exactly, does Adrian Blackmore think was “misrepresented“?

Both Adrian Blackmore and Andrew Gilruth point to the RSPB’s use of brood management as a conservation technique for other species, but importantly, both fail to mention that in the case of hen harriers, the threat to their survival and the cause of their decline (illegal persecution by gamekeepers on grouse moors, which, incidentally, was fully accepted as fact by all sides in the court), would still be present.

Everybody knows that hen harriers aren’t just being killed prior to or during the grouse chick-rearing period, but they’re also being killed in the months following. Just look at the results from the satellite-tracked hen harriers from August to October (beyond the grouse chick-rearing period) this year – ten birds have all ‘disappeared’ in highly suspicious circumstances, all either on or next to a grouse moor:

[RPUK map showing the last known locations of ten satellite-tracked hen harriers, Aug – Oct 2018]

If these ten birds had all been brood meddled (i.e. removed from the grouse moor as eggs/chicks, raised in captivity and then released back to the uplands in July/August), would that have prevented them from being illegally killed on grouse moors between August and October? No, of course not.

Despite the grouse shooting industry’s rather pathetic attempts to portray themselves as the saviours of hen harriers (ahem) and the RSPB as ‘hypocritical’ (i.e. fake) conservationists, it’s worth noting that this judicial review isn’t about the merits of brood meddling per se, but is focused solely on whether Natural England’s decision to issue the brood meddling licence was lawful or unlawful. Although it’s worth mentioning a comment made by Ms Justice Lang when she learned about the widespread illegal persecution of this species on grouse moors and the authorities’ complete failure to enforce the law, which went along the lines of, “Well if this is a national wildlife crime priority god help the species which are not prioritised”!

Judging by their standard of correspondence, perhaps Messrs Blackmore and Gilruth should stick to their areas of expertise (i.e. the land of make believe) and just write letters to Santa instead.

UPDATE 15 Dec 2018: An idiot’s guide to hen harrier brood meddling FAO Countryside Alliance & GWCT (here)

12
Dec
18

Hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge: day 2

Day two of the legal challenge against Natural England’s decision to licence hen harrier brood meddling took place in the Royal Courts of Justice on Thurs 6th Dec 2018.

For those who don’t know what hen harrier brood meddling is, please see here.

For info about day one of this judicial review please see here.

As before, this is not a definitive nor detailed report – merely just a summary from an interested observer.

Day two opened with Mark Avery’s barrister, David Wolfe QC, continuing to present his arguments about why NE’s licensing decision was unlawful.

There was some complicated legal argument about the various subsections of Section 16 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act and whether the licence had been issued for ‘scientific, research or educational purposes’ (which is apparently what NE is claiming) or whether there was an underlying conservation purpose, which David Wolfe contends NE has admitted to in its evidence but which NE contests. The distinction is important because NE claims it was not required to consider ‘other satisfactory solutions‘ for preventing or discouraging the illegal persecution of hen harriers, and thus conserving hen harriers, as the Act requires.

David Wolfe argued that NE has “misdirected itself” as the so-called ‘research’ element of the licence cannot be separated from the ‘conservation’ element because the purpose of the brood meddling trial is to test a potential conservation measure (i.e. the attitudinal response of criminal grouse moor owners and criminal gamekeepers to having hen harriers removed and later returned) and isn’t just a research test for the sake of doing a research test.

And even if it was, the research would be “pointless” anyway because NE has accepted (via the HH Joint Action Plan) that brood meddling could only potentially be rolled out if the hen harrier population “had reached a density at which they would impact significantly on grouse numbers” – clearly, the current population size in England would need to increase significantly for those conditions to be met. Thus, David Wolfe argued that running the current brood meddling ‘trial’ was “pointless” because (a) it would be tested under very different conditions to those of a roll-out (i.e. there’d be a higher population of breeding hen harriers so the attitudinal response of criminal grouse moor owners and gamekeepers to the current trial may well be different if there are more hen harriers) and (b) NE has already admitted that the hen harrier population will not recover sufficiently to justify a full roll-out of brood meddling without further interventions [against the criminals on the grouse moors], and none of those further interventions have even been planned, let alone trialled.

Natural England’s failure to consider ‘other satisfactory options’ [to brood meddling], as required by law, was central to David Wolfe’s case. He argued that brood meddling was an “invasive and risky conservation measure“, which would otherwise be illegal given the hen harrier’s protected status under EU law, and that NE should have considered a long list of alternative, less-invasive options first.

He told the court that the Natural England Scientific Advisory Committee (NESAC) had discussed a proposal for hen harrier brood meddling in September 2015. At that meeting, the NESAC had heard a presentation from Dr Steve Redpath who had advised a number of alternative options for tackling the continued illegal persecution of hen harriers on driven grouse moors. In addition to brood meddling, the NESAC was told about various other available options such as licensing grouse shooting, increasing enforcement, banning grouse shooting, financial compensation and increasing grouse numbers. However, despite these alternatives (and others), in November 2015 the NE Board decided to proceed to explore the brood meddling option and specifically did not consider any of the proposed alternatives.

It was argued that further alternatives to those suggested by Steve Redpath were also available, as currently operating in Scotland, i.e. General Licence restrictions and vicarious liability. David Wolfe suggested these were obvious alternatives to consider, let alone trial, to tackling the underlying problem of criminality on grouse moors. We heard that NE has apparently cited “difficulties” in enforcing the law against the criminal grouse moor owners and gamekeepers and thus it being “of limited effectiveness” as a hen harrier conservation measure (according to NE). David Wolfe was clear that under the Birds Directive, the UK authorities have a statutory duty to protect this species and for NE to simply say ‘it’s too difficult to enforce the law’ without demonstrating they’ve taken all reasonable measures to remove the incentive to kill hen harriers is insufficient to justify the derogation to permit brood meddling because then the illegal actions of the grouse moor owners and gamekeepers become ‘tolerated’ rather than criminalised.

[Mark Avery with his legal team outside the court at the end of day one. L-R: Lewis Hadler, Tessa Gregory, David Wolfe QC, Zoe Leventhal, Mark Avery. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

On the afternoon of day two barrister Paul Luckhurst opened the case for Natural England. We’re not going to comment on his arguments at this stage because the case will continue, unexpectedly, for at least a third day (next court date: 17 January 2019) and so the main substance of his arguments will be heard (and reported) then.

However, there was one point he made that raised eyebrows in the court and deserves a mention here:

In response to the RSPB’s claim that diversionary feeding was a low impact alternative to brood meddling that has been proven to reduce grouse predation and thus conflict, Paul Luckhurst argued that one reason why diversionary feeding hadn’t been taken up by grouse moor managers was because ‘it attracts too many predators’. However, a recent peer-reviewed scientific publication does not support this claim.

From Ludwig et al (2018) which reports on diversionary feeding of hen harriers at the Langholm study:

As hen harriers defend the immediate surroundings of their nest (Hardey et al. 2013), scavenging by other species, largely Ravens, was infrequent and almost entirely after fledging. Observations in previous years indicated occasional visits by Carrion Crows, Rooks and Short-eared Owls, while mammalian predators, gulls or other raptors were not observed‘.

Presumably the lawyers for the RSPB and Mark Avery will argue this point when they are given the opportunity to respond to Natural England’s arguments at the next court hearing in January.

UPDATE: 13/12/18 Countryside Alliance and GWCT comment on hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge (here)

06
Dec
18

Hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge: day 1

The two-day legal challenge (judicial review) of Natural England’s decision to licence hen harrier brood meddling got underway in the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday.

[Mark Avery with his legal team outside the court at the end of day one. L-R: Lewis Hadler, Tessa Gregory, David Wolfe QC, Zoe Leventhal, Mark Avery. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

This is just a brief summary of proceedings so far and doesn’t go in to great detail – that will have to wait.

The public gallery in Court No. 18 was packed and there were eight lawyers in attendance with more folders, files, notebooks, pens and post-it stickers than a Staples shop.

Most of the day was taken up by David Forsdick QC, presenting the RSPB’s case to Ms Justice Lang. Some of this was hard to follow because (a) he’s quite softly spoken, (b) he kept referring the judge to various exhibits that only she and the lawyers had access to, and (c) a lot of his arguments referred to written arguments made by Natural England which the lawyers have seen but the public has yet to hear.

The RSPB has raised a number of challenges against Natural England’s brood meddling licensing decision but the two issues that received the most attention in court related to diversionary feeding and designated sites for hen harriers, particularly Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

It was argued that as the purpose of the brood meddling licence was to further the protection of the hen harrier by investigating means to reduce grouse predation and thus ‘conflict’ and thus illegal persecution, other options to brood meddling should have been considered. Diversionary feeding is a low impact alternative, proven via research (at Langholm) to reduce grouse predation and causes minimal disturbance. As diversionary feeding is also included in DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan (to which Natural England was a main party in the drafting and now the implementing of the Plan) and Natural England has issued a generic, England-wide licence to permit diversionary feeding, it follows that Natural England is satisfied that diversionary feeding reduces grouse predation and thus reduces ‘conflict’ and thus illegal persecution.

However, given the “very low” uptake of diversionary feeding by landowners it was argued that Natural England has failed to encourage landowners to take this up as a voluntary option and has also failed to use its statutory powers to require the use of diversionary feeding on designated sites. Natural England’s legal arguments against the use of diversionary feeding as a viable alternative to brood meddling (arguments the lawyers have read but we have yet to hear) were derided when reference was made to a recent public statement made by Natural England’s Chairman on the ‘success’ of the 2018 breeding season in which he referred to the effectiveness of diversionary feeding!

Brood meddling on sites specifically designated for breeding hen harriers (i.e. SPAs) received equal criticism, especially as brood meddling relies on the concept of ‘quotas’ and ‘excess’ nests; this is contrary to the statutory conservation objectives of an SPA and case law was used to highlight this fundamental flaw. The point was made that, theoretically, if there was a single hen harrier nest in the centre of the Bowland Fells SPA, given the brood meddling density threshold (0.0125 pr/km2) this could be the only hen harrier nest permitted in this SPA designated for 12 breeding pairs. It was also argued that removing hen harriers from grouse moors in SPAs and then later releasing them in non-grouse moor areas of the SPA (as permitted by the brood meddling licence) constituted an adverse effect on the integrity of the SPA and was thus unlawful.

The RSPB’s case concluded at 3pm and then David Wolfe QC began his opening arguments on behalf of Mark Avery. David will continue this morning and then the court will hear from Natural England. Both claimants (RSPB and Mark Avery) will then have a right of response before the case is adjourned pending Ms Justice Lang’s ruling on the judicial review, which isn’t expected for several weeks and possibly several months.

UPDATE 12/12/18: Hen harrier brood meddling legal challenge: day two (here)




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