Hawk and Owl Trust: official statement on their exit from hen harrier dialogue

HOT2Further to our blog earlier this month about the Hawk and Owl Trust becoming the third conservation group to walk out of the Hen Harrier Dialogue process (see here), soon after similar exits by the Northern England Raptor Forum (here) and the RSPB (here), the Hawk and Owl Trust have just issued the following press release to clarify their position:

The Hawk and Owl Trust (HOT) has resigned from Environment Council’s Hen Harrier Dialogue process: President of HOT, wildlife presenter Chris Packham calls for a firm stand against the persecution of birds of prey.

The Hawk and Owl Trust, as the last pro-raptor body participating in the discussion group the Hen Harrier Dialogue process, set up by the Environment Council back in 2006 to bring together those with an interest in the future of the Hen Harrier in England, have decided to leave the Dialogue process.

The Trust cite the lack of any progress or willingness of the grouse moor owners and their representatives to recognise the existence of raptor persecution in any meaningful way; despite solid scientific evidence to prove lethal persecution exists. This type of persecution is illegal under British law yet is widespread to this day. See the case of young female Hen Harrier ‘Bowland Betty’ as an example.

The Hawk and Owl Trust are joining fellow conservation organisations, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who left the dialogue last summer, and the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) who left recently for the same reasons.                       

Nearly seven years of dialogue and numerous meetings have resulted in the appalling fact that, due to persecution, 2012 saw only one breeding pair of Hen Harriers in the whole of England, despite the habitat being available for some 300 breeding pairs.

As President of HOT, wildlife presenter Chris Packham speaks out on behalf of the Trust:

“The Hawk and Owl Trust feels that it is completely unacceptable for any bird of prey to be killed – and should remain absolutely illegal” says Chris. “It is time for all who want to make Britain a better place for birds of prey to take a firm stand.”

Patient dialogue has failed, so HOT will be joining other conservation bodies in looking for other more effective ways to end the wholesale slaughter of our birds of prey and the Hen Harrier in particular. The illegal persecution of birds of prey must stop and those with a commercial interest in grouse moor shooting must be made to put their house in order. 

Hawk and Owl Trust website here

Well done to the Hawk and Owl Trust, as well as to NERF and the RSPB. It’s great to see these organisations taking a stand. If, like them, you want to see grouse moor owners and gamekeepers being held to account for the continuing criminal persecution of hen harriers and other raptors, you too can take a stand. Please sign this e-petition calling for a licensing scheme and get your friends to do the same: SIGN HERE

If you don’t know what happens to hen harriers on grouse moors, take a look at this photograph – this male hen harrier was caught by the legs in an illegally-set spring trap on a Scottish grouse moor. Fortunately he was discovered by raptor workers before the person who set the trap came back to kill him, perhaps by shooting him, or maybe bludgeoning him with a heavy stick, or perhaps just kicking him to death.

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5 thoughts on “Hawk and Owl Trust: official statement on their exit from hen harrier dialogue”

    1. Hi Emmanuel,

      This particular trap was one of several found on the Moy Estate in 2010. This estate was the subject of a police investigation after the discovery of several dead red kites (including their severed body parts that had been hidden in holes), six illegally set spring traps, one trapped hen harrier, one poisoned bait, and a jar containing the leg rings of four golden eagles. Incredibly, the only charge brought in this case was against one young gamekeeper and he was convicted for possession of a dead red kite (found in the back of his vehicle with two broken legs and a smashed in head). No charges were brought against anyone for setting illegal traps, killing protected raptor species or laying out poison bait. Why? We don’t know. You’d have to ask the police and the Crown Office. Another spectacular failure.

  1. Whilst I would not question the RSPB’s, NERF’s or HOT’s motivation, some of the shooting groups involved will be delighted that they have walked away – just as this long-term process was nearing a conclusion. Yes it was painfully slow, but it was about gradually chipping away and removing any last excuses the shooting groups had and, once and for all, reaching an agreed consensus that dialogue had been tried and failed. I am certain the shooting groups will now cry foul and receive a good deal of sympathy from their friends in government.

    What has happened since? Following the soundbites, prompted by RSPB there is now a new process of dialogue involving the same groups, but starting from scratch and being led by DEFRA (of buzzard and badger culling fame). Cue more prevarication.

    The idea of licensing shoots is excellent, but will never be seriously entertained by government whilst dialogue continues and potentially lawful solutions to the conflict remain untested. I very much hope I am wrong, but once the dust settles following the press releases, I suspect the main outcome from all of this will be more time wasting.

  2. Not surprised to learn that it was found on Moy estate, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I suppose the estate made a scapcoat out of the young gamekeeper, typical of the breed!

    [Ed: had to remove that sentence Chris, sorry]

    1. Fair enough Ed. However, what I was trying to say was that Red Kites should have diversed from the Black Isle and relocated south of Moy Estate where I live by now, wonder why they havn’t?

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