Hen harriers are in trouble, and have been for some time (to read all our earlier blog posts about them, click here).
They’re not just in a bit of trouble; they are in seriously dire straits, and most of it has been caused by them being illegally killed (shot, trapped, poisoned, stamped on) whenever they venture on to a moorland that is being managed for driven grouse shooting.
A lot of people we talk to about raptor persecution in general all say the same thing – they feel frustrated and let down by the inability of the ‘authorities’ (e.g. government, police, judicial process) to put a stop to it.
Well things are changing. Recently, there has been a groundswell of imaginative initiatives that are designed to allow ordinary people like us to have our say and get our voices heard. Individually, we may not have much impact, but collectively, we can be very powerful.
Here are four things we, as individuals, can all do very easily, to help hen harriers. Some of them you can do right now without even having to leave your chair!
1. Participate in Hen Harrier Day on August 10th 2014.
There will be a number of peaceful protest demonstrations across the north of England (an area where driven grouse shooting is a dominant ‘sport’) taking place on Sunday 10th August 2014. The idea is to congregate with like-minded people to celebrate the hen harrier and to get some much-needed national and international media attention at a time when most media outlets will be focusing on the opening of the grouse-shooting season (12th August).
One of these protests will be held in the Derbyshire Peak District, with Chris Packham in attendance (see details about this event on Mark Avery’s blog here).
Other protests are planned for Yorkshire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Lancashire although we are still awaiitng full details – to be announced soon on the Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) website here.
If you can’t make it in person to one of these events, BAWC will be providing information about how you can join in ‘remotely’ by posting pictures on-line.
2. Vote for the RSPB’s SKYDANCER Project in the National Lottery Awards.
The Skydancer Project is a four-year educational initiative aimed at raising awareness and promoting the conservation of hen harriers in the north of England. They have been doing some fantastic work, delivering talks, hosting workshops, running fieldtrips etc. They have recently been nominated for a National Lottery Award (one of seven projects in the running for Best Education Project, selected from over 750 applicants). Winning will mean national media attention on prime time tv. It takes a couple of seconds to vote for them on-line – deadline 23rd July. Click here to vote.
3. Sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting in England.
Mark Avery launched this e-petition almost one month ago (and here is his summary of why it is necessary). Already it has attracted 5,789 votes. Driven grouse-shooting is the number one reason why hen harriers are being killed. It really is a no brainer – please sign here!
4. Support the Ethical Consumer’s ‘Turn Your Back on Grouse’ campaign.
The Ethical Consumer has recently published a well-researched report about the damaging consequences of intensively driven grouse shooting (see here). They have started a campaign calling for a boycott on all businesses connected to the grouse-shooting industry. It’s called ‘Turn Your Back on Grouse’. You can find more info here.
We’re particularly interested in this campaign. We touched on it, briefly, last year when we blogged about Marks & Spencer selling grouse that had originated from Yorkshire and the Scottish Borders – when we asked M&S to name the estates of origin, they were surprisingly coy – see here, here, here and here.
We called in Trading Standards to investigate whether M&S’s claims that “we are working with only the most sustainable and well-managed estates, and do not work with any suppliers that interfere with hen harriers” was actually true, but we haven’t heard anything further. Unfortunately our time is limited and we haven’t pursued it, so it’s very welcome news to see the Ethical Consumer pick up on this issue.
It’s particularly timely, as the Countryside Alliance put out the following statement in April this year:
“Following a meeting with Marks and Spencer and Yorkshire Game, discussions are to take place between the Game to Eat team and the M&S PR Department to devise a suitable media plan to promote grouse in August 2014. The Game-to-Eat campaign sent out over 80,000 game recipe leaflets over the course of the season. The team is now working with development Chef Lee Maycock to create and photograph new recipes for 2014. Lee Maycock has continued to deliver game preparation courses at catering colleges around the country and has had an excellent reception from catering lecturers keen to increase game’s profile. The team attended an end-of-season game dinner at Notting Hill’s The Shed restaurant in early February. The team hosted Shooting Times, Country Life, Sporting Shooter, Fieldsports and Shooting Gazette journalists at this event. Game-to-Eat and the Countryside Alliance Awards are working together to promote the work of butchers selling game”.
Hopefully many of you will get involved with supporting the ‘Turn Your Back on Grouse’ campaign and help give this issue further media and political attention.
Hen harrier photo by Gordon Langsbury.