Further incitement to persecute the hen harrier in Ireland

Following on from the controversy in July when an Irish council leader in Limerick called for ‘open season’ on hen harriers (see here), another group in Ireland, this time in Galway, is now encouraging illegal activity against this protected species.

The following piece was published yesterday on the Barroughter & Clonmoylan Bogs Action Group’s Facebook page:


This particular group of Irish peat cutters is very familiar with controversy – see here.

It’s unclear why this group detests the hen harrier – it’s not as though there is the usual perceived conflict between the hen harrier and game-shooting interests – although perhaps their last sentence reveals the root cause of their issue, not dissimilar to Councillor Sheahan’s arguments back in July.

UPDATE 11pm: The peat cutters’ Facebook page (where the above article was posted) has been virtually under seige today by many many people posting comments in condemnation of hen harrier persecution. The volume and strength of feeling has resulted in the peat cutters removing their original post. Great to see so many people respond – there is hope!

Also today, The National Trust for Ireland issued a strong statement condemning the peat cutters’ position on hen harriers  (see here).

22 thoughts on “Further incitement to persecute the hen harrier in Ireland”

  1. Facebook would be interested in removing this post if readers (and the moderator) of this forum contact them regarding this illegal post (yes the post itself).

    Under Section 69 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (Irish Law):

    “A person who attempts to commit an offence under this Act, or who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of an offence under this Act, or who solicits or incites any other person to commit an offence under this Act shall be guilty of an offence.”

  2. It would appear that nesting harriers might impact on their peat-cutting activities, hence the anger, and the fact that this creature has the audacity to kill bog creatures, has filled them with much displeasure.

    But they needn’t worry. If peat cutting has resulted in the destruction of 38% of Ireland’s raised bogs since 1995, then if this rate of destruction is maintained it will all be gone long before the year 2050 has been reached – by then there’ll be very few small creatures left at all. Backward thinking morons.

  3. Read the article and see that it has a defiant and ignorance based tone to it. What concern have these peat cutters got for the small creatures in their bogs? If they are destroying the bogs with their activities, then they too are killing these small creatures, that the hen harrier allegedly is gobbling up. The comment reveals a crass lack of education in conservation matters in parts of Ireland. These men feel aggrieved.

    I can understand the attitude of these men. Here is the EU declaring Ireland’s raised bogs protected areas, when the Irish have been cutting peats for thousands of years. Has anyone bothered to explain to them just how important it is to save these areas for various important reasons, such as climate change and the saving of endangered species of plants and insects, and perhaps the small creatures. There is also the fact that they feel disregarded due to their ownership of private plots, traditionally owned by families or whatever. Compensation should have been such, that it would create a satisfaction that they had been rewarded for giving up their rights. The poor Hen Harrier has got nothing to do with this issue, but is becoming a scapegoat for those proposing “developments” and blaming this bird for any obstacles being put in their way. I am sure an accord can be reached over this near hysterical (in its comic and psychological sense of the word) situation.

    Why let this situation get out of control. Mediation and placation has to take place and a better image created of what conservation is about. Let us isolate the peat cutters from the shooters of game birds, and not let an incongruous alliance take place, and innocent birds being killed for irrational reasons. However, the Irish cannot have it both ways, with millions of euros in aid over the years to revitalise its economy. Surely, concession should be given for this benefit by our peat cutters, that the EU may have seemed to dominate their freedom. If it is a case of not enough compensation, then let the EU pay them off, and let it initiate an education programme on conservation in simple terms that all can understand. It is sad that various international conservation bodies can get agreements from some of the toughest parts of the world, to save some rare animal, bird, plant or insect, yet, here we are in what should be modern Ireland, with a Mexican standoff about to develop! Hen Harriers should have nothing logically to do with peat cutting rights.

  4. Strange. I can’t access this blog entry. Only the comments show.

    [Ed: don’t worry, WordPress is having technical difficulties today – their engineers trying to fix a bug that has affected a lot of blogs, including ours. Normal service should resume soon]

  5. Theres an echo of the Islay, Duich Moss situation from the early 1980s here…on that occasion the local estates and whisky companies put out totally false claims that the local traditional peat cutters would have their rights withdrawn – when actually it was about industrial scale peat extraction for whisky production. The reaction from the locals was immediate and vociferous – I can well understand their anger [however misdirected] and it seems we have the same in Ireland.
    Without knowing the facts of the Irish case..I would hesitate to blame anyone for not presenting the conservation case more sympathetically..Ive seen situations in Scotland where any attempt to regulate land use for conservation by government is met with unthinking hostility.No matter how well the case was presented. US against THEM.Outsiders telling us what to do.
    But look very carefully behind this stuff to make sure that its not the peat cutting industry and the game shooting lobby who are pulling the strings. If you find they are then tell the traditional peat cutters – they wont want to be manipulated either?

    1. And there you’ve probably hit the nail squarely on the head, it’s nothing to do with Harriers, it’s the same old story repeated time after time, but in this case it’s the EURO at stake not the pound or Red Grouse.

  6. All day on two different computers running on different systems your web site has not been opening properly, I get a largely black screen with no story content.


    [Ed: Hi Paul. WordPress (who hosts our blog) is experiencing technical difficulties today. This has affected loads of blogs, including ours. Their engineers are currently trying to fix the bug. Should be back up and running soon]

    1. If the forestry operations are going to be so good financially for the farmers, and if this industry is going to create so many jobs, then why don’t some of the farmers quit farming altogether and make a switch from farmland to forestry? This way, they make loads of money, create jobs, and allow the Hen Harrier to flourish. God knows, they could even make money out of Hen Harrier eco-tourism!

        1. Just testing the anti-Harrier poster’s theory! Interesting that the person has chosen not to add further comment. But you’re right, Nirofo, I really should have thought that through. There is absolutely no place for common sense where landowners are concerned!

            1. Nae bother! Thanks for the link – glad to see someone is taking the issue seriously. The fact is that raptors excite people. The various Red Kite feeding stations around the country are important sources of income for those farmers that had the gumption to get involved in the process at an early stage, and I do think that some of the farming community’s hatred towards kites could stem from envy.

              Similarly, the Clyde Muirshiel Hen Harrier project from a few years ago, attracted thousands of people over the years, the majority of those just to watch activity on the nest cam. Granted, there was always the possibility that the harriers could be seen if you went for a walk, but many people were just as happy to sit in the comfort of the visitor centre and watch the nest cam.

              Many other businesses have covered a variety of species through such ventures, and the Irish landowners have the opportunity to do likewise. Provide a small hide and charge people a nominal fee to use it, and to cover yourself in case of harrier no-shows, a sprinkling of feeders could be placed nearby to tempt the photographers. I remember the Argaty Red Kite feeding station when it first started, with a small, ramshackle hide (I’m sure they won’t mind me saying that!), but the venture proved to be so successful, that this was soon replaced by a massive, purpose built hide, alongside the provision of ranger-led wildlife walks. From small acorns.

  7. These areas are protected areas (SACS) in Ireland because of the Hen Harrier and other animals but some are also bogs. The people who own land there believe its their right to cut turf on the bogs but are not allowed to do this, due to the areas being protected.
    Their absolutely twisted logic is that if they get rid of the birds, they get rid of the SAC status and therefore can harvest the turf at will.
    This is not traditional turf cutting (as was mentioned above), this is for-profit harvesting using heavy machinery
    These are theyre own pictures on their FB site https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barroughter-Clonmoylan-Bogs-Action-Group/195445003875984?fref=ts

    Im from the west of Ireland and there are small minorities of idiots like these throughout the country who think they have a god given right to destroy natural habitats and anything that lives on them to make money. There is no excuse for these people and thankfully this groups recent post and other actions have now turned the majority of right minded people against them

    1. It seems Ireland is no different to anywhere else where money making schemes take preference over the environment and it’s wildlife. The Pound and EURO profits always come before any other consideration.

      1. Then there’s only one way to hit back – cancel all subsidies! If it’s their land and they want to do as they like, then don’t give them any money at all. Landowners seem to think they have this right to do as they please on their land, including wilful law-breaking,. They don’t want outsiders to have any say in the way they work, but they are quite happy to have that work funded by those very same outsiders. This hypocritical approach has to be tackled, and withdrawing all payments is the best way to achieve this.

        1. I agree, stopping subsidies to farmers / estate landowners who fail to properly look after the environment and constantly break wildlife laws should be automatic, there’s only one problem with that, quite a lot of the landowning farmers and estate owners are also ministers in the government themselves, or have influential links to ministers in government who are in a position to have some control over whether subsidies are paid or not and to whom! Guess who are most likely to carry on receiving the subsidies regardless of how well they look after the environment and it’s wildlife.

    1. Interesting report Mike, lets hope that puts the cat right in among the pigeons! Many of the bird survey’s where windfarms are concerned are a joke at best and in many cases have resulted in the loss of prime Raptor habitat and of course the total loss of breeding Raptors for that area. A severe rethink regarding survey methodology is certainly well overdue.

      1. Talking about putting the cat among the pigeons. I have two cats and 33 pigeons, the cats occasionally sit in my pigeon loft and the pigeons totally trust them (but not other cats) just proves that predator and prey can co-exist. One cat even sniffs pigeons sitting on their nest and no feathers are ruffled!

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