tagged_hen_harrier_bowland_2014_Jude LaneTwo of this year’s hen harrier chicks from Lancashire have ‘disappeared’.

Both were sat-tagged and both suffered ‘catastrophic tag failure’, according to the RSPB’s press release (here).

Dress it up all you like, as technological breakdown, possible predation or even starvation. We’ve heard it all before – every possible explanation except for the bleedin’ obvious – these birds have probably been illegally killed by those with a vested interest in driven grouse shooting, just like the hundreds, no thousands, of other ‘missing’ harriers in our uplands.

There will be some who’ll still say we need to give them the benefit of the doubt, we need to try and work with them, let’s all sit around the table and talk this through and find a way.

That’s laughable. The only way to deal with these bastards is to ban driven grouse shooting. Here’s the petition – please sign it.

Photo of one of the young Bowland hen harriers by Jude Lane.

34 thoughts on “Bastards”

  1. Negotiating without sanctions being available is like fishing without a hook. Time a more pro-active stance was taken .. leaflets to inform the public what to look for in terms of illegality and a number for them to call might be a start. Leaflets to be left at every possible venue, both in the town and in the country, preferably at access points. The more folk involved the more powerful the campaign.

  2. Totally agree. Whilst sick perverts derive pleasure by blasting birds from the sky in the name of sport and be prepared to pay thousands for the privilege then no wildlife will be safe. The same can be said for any bloodsport. Hunting with hounds was banned but there are still many hunts who openly flout the law because they know they’ll get away with it. All this needs to change and change quickly while we still have some wildlife left.

    1. In a country that subsidizes and even looks up to an elite family of wildlife killers how can we expect any more from that type of gene pool, really. It’s the activity of ‘gentry’ it makes me sick.

  3. Quote:
    ‘catastrophic tag failure’ For that you can read a dose of shotgun pellets through the middle of the electronics, I guess that would be the most obvious cause. I suppose it’s possible they could have been hit by a low flying Pheasant as they crossed the road, having seen the damage a Pheasant can do to my car I could safely say the electronic tags would have no chance of surviving.

    It’s about time our so-called wildlife protection agencies took off the kid gloves they’ve been pretending to fight with for so long and gave these Raptor persecuting assholes a good old smack square in the national media where it might possibly do some damage to them for a change instead of the other way round. Let’s call a spade a spade, don’t give them an inch, keep at em for everything we can blame them for, and that’s an awful lot !!!

    1. correct nirofo, but why are the RSPB not telling us exactly where these birds went missing ? who are they protecting in bowland i wonder ? , the RSPB are very quick at asking the public for money to protect harriers and these birds were sattelite tagged with much publicity by the RSPB using tax payers money might i add, do we not have a right to know.
      Also if these birds have been killed by humans then should they not be telling the police exactly were it happened as it is a crime.

  4. Yes George, Let the local community, where these crimes against raptors occur, know what has happened and if it has involved poison then make it very clear that these criminals have knowingly put the lives of adults, children, pets and livestock at risk (Let’s be clear about this, when we say risk we mean death). These criminals who carry out these sickening acts will almost always live within the community close to where the incident of raptor persecution has taken place and putting up posters as well as distributing leaflets about such wildlife crimes will help to not only inform locals of the incident and educate them on what to look out for when they are walking or working in the countryside but will also help to encourage debate and hopefully enlighten the community to what is going on on their doorstep. The perpetrators of such crimes are often committed wildlife criminals and often believe that they are untouchable but a local awareness campaigne can have its benefits in a number of ways….. Please visit our website and take a look at an example of a poster campaign Project Raptor ran within a local community where raptors have been persecuted for years. We must never let a single incident of raptor persecution go unnoticed and pass quietly. We owe it to these birds to speak up for them and to take every opportunity that we get to let the public, media and politicians know what is happening out there on those hills (estates) and to keep up the momentum of our efforts and to be clear with anybody who attempts to prevent our voices being heard, that we are not going away and that every day our voices will only get louder.

  5. The grouse and pheasant shooters and the providers of this archaic, hideous and cruel act, need to be brought down.

    Watch, record and report anything suspicious.

    [Ed: Thanks, Douglas. For the benefit of those who may not be aware, check out the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website which provides information on how to recognise, record and report wildlife crime:

  6. The Independence referendum is now over, so I will be able to devote more time to this site.

    Agree wholeheartedly that those charged with upholding the law should get their finger out, but here’s a wee idea for our conservation organisations. The RSPB, and other conservation organisations engage with thousands of schoolchildren each year, with organised visits by RSPB staff to schools, or via school visits to RSPB reserves.

    What about making part of those visits (or even whole visits) all about raptor persecution and other wildlife crimes, and educate these children from an early age? Showing them real images depicting the true horror of trapped, dead and dying animals, whilst enforcing the issue that this is all carried out by those in the shooting industry, and the police and the judicial system do next to nothing in their attempts to clamp down on it, will have a lasting impact.

    Those involved in the killing have no qualms about using education to portray their warped and twisted views as “conservation”, so it’s about time the real conservationists started to think outside of the “fluffy bunny” box. Perhaps an animated series based on the Wildlife Explorers characters could be the way forwards, and by introducing a new character, let’s say the loveable Henry the Hen Harrier, who ends up being killed by a gamekeeper, or Henrietta the Hen Harrier, and her brood of near-fledged chicks, are all blasted to death by a gamekeeper. In fact, the illegal killing of Hen Harriers by gamekeepers in animation form, could be a recurring theme every year, as it is in real life. And you are guaranteed to keep it fresh in their minds.

    1. Education is about the child. Schools are not a forum for advocating one side of a conflict, however justified the arguments. The RSPB’s education work is designed to fit with the school curriculum and give children an understanding of the natural world. That should give them the critical ability which, as adults, they can use to make their own judgement about environmental conflicts. If you do that properly I would think there is there is little doubt about their eventual judgement on raptor persecution.

    2. just look on any computer images of fox snares and theres plenty to look at, no need for animated artificial film, ive seen plenty of sickening photos on this site to sicken anyone.
      Wildlife is being cropped off wholesale every year.

    3. What you trying to do Marco, frighten them to death with these tales of Hen Harrier persecution horror, the kids would have nightmares that could affect them for the rest of their lives, wouldn’t it be far better to show them a few nice film clips of our precious wildlife such as Brock the Badger being culled by government sponsored lackies. I know what would be nice to show them, a film showing a pack of friendly hounds ripping Brer Fox to pieces, this would also give the kids an insight into the sort of delightful pastimes a “better” class of privileged people get up to.

      I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately, perhaps I’m getting too soppy in my old age.

    4. Tam, an understanding of the natural world should involve man’s impact, good and bad. If you believe that the killing organisations do not involve themselves in peddling lies to schoolchildren, you are mistaken. The sad fact is that there are many adults that do not realise the true extent of wildlife persecution (or have any understanding at all), through a lack of education at an early age, and of the biased and corrupt UK establishment media. Decades of dialogue failed miserably, so it’s time to fight fire with fire, and what better way than through education.

      Keen Birder, we all know that there are these images on various websites, but your average child would never think to seek them out and will be unaware of the problem, which is why it should be used in the education system. Children are taught about war from an early age, so why not wildlife persecution?

      Nirofo, I totally agree. Show them all of these things, and educate them about our wonderful government and those nice people that love to kill things for pleasure.

  7. Hello, I´m Dutch and I was depressed already, because the Dutch Bird Protection (Vogelbescherming Nederland) wrote in their special Birds-of-prey-volume, that we can wave goodbye tot the Montagu´s Harrier (Circus Pygargus) in the Netherlands in appr. 15 years. And now this. Good new for the Dutch Hen Harriers: Thanks to so called Birdfields, provided by farmers and government in the province (a sort of county) Groningen, they survive the harsh winter months. I don´t know if the RSPB already does something like it or if it´s no use with the trigger-happy and poisoning raptorprosecutors around?

    1. They should winter in the South East and I was hoping to see them at Sheppey if they make their way down South. That’s not looking hopeful now,

  8. I have never been keen on appeasement. It is well passed time to stop trying to appease Gamekeepers and Killing estates. I signed the quoted petition when it first came out and was very happy to do so. Gamekeepers call their work a profession which gives it a more noble sound, whereas in reality it is a job that involves burning heather, stink pits, cruel indiscriminate snaring and trapping, poisoning and shooting protected wildlife. A job most decent people would be ashamed of doing.

    1. The “mysterious disappearance” of two Hen Harriers is on North West News TV tonight BBC1 said it was from the Forest of Bowland

  9. The Grouse Moor is open access land, on shoot days exercise your right to roam across the moor.
    Should a drive be about to take place and you are asked to wait, kindly refuse and carry on.
    It can disrupt the drive, especially if the beaters have already set off.
    The Guns will not be happy, after all it is not a cheap day out for those shooting.
    On average they will have 5 drives in a day, disrupt just a couple and it will have an effect.
    Hitting them where it hurts and legally is one way forward.
    In the early 90s, shoots were regularly disrupted by “Sabs” i wonder why they are no longer?
    Education is vital, I have spoken in schools about Wildlife Crime, specifically Raptor persecution in areas of driven Grouse Moors.
    Many children and staff were shocked at what has and continues to occur.
    All groups from WI’s to Gardening Clubs, spread the message, I can assure you, many people are totally unaware this slaughter continues
    The Estate owners have shown they cannot self regulate, it is now time for the Government to proactively do so.
    Start by licensing shoots, no Wildlife (Raptors) no licence, no shoot.

    1. totally agree with your statements mark, please come back sabs and target the moors were these birds have been killed, from now till december ruin their so called sport. no good licensing someone who doesn’t give a damn about the law because they can pay expensive barristers to twist it anyway if they get caught. ruin a few shooting days and hit them in the pocket, also the negative publicity will hit them again

  10. Business as usual..we will never turn this situation round until the public and their political and judicial representatives grasp the horrible fact that such killings are routine and widespread. Persecution deniers abound out there, some in very high places. More demonstrations, more lobbying – this is the new “fox hunting debate”..and we won that one.

    1. We have been waiting for 30 years for public opinion to decide this issue. For a raft of reasons you will never mobilise the public effectively against raptor persecution in isolation. Public awareness of raptor persecution has to be part of demand for wider political change such as land reform, a subject which is about to move rapidly up the priorities of the Scottish Government and its Labour opposition in the wake of the Referendum. Working in that context, however small the contribution, would help any environmental case for removing the tax and other advantages enjoyed by landowners and ultimately breaking up the estates.

      1. Breaking up the estates ? theres plenty of land for sale for all to buy, it doesn’t matter if farms or estates are big or small, what can , or why would joe public want with land anyway, most would not want it, its so remote and what could they do with it, start being farmers ??,, its not going to be sold off cheap, sounds like politics of envy, we are already well on the way to gaining public support against raptor persecution,, just keep on reporting it and raising awareness,,.

  11. It’s no good hoping that the media would get the message across – most of it is in the hands of The Establishement, which is where the shooting interests fester.

  12. The media have for decades highlighted the goings on, on grouse moors and exposed wrong doings. I’m sure Auld Tam did not appreciate the attention he got when he was photographed on his “well managed” moor in Lanarkshire, Tam admitted stamping out winged vermin, whilst a reporter recorded it. I don’t know what happened to Tam but the journalist did his job, from there it was over to the legal side to follow it through, which is were it usually flounders for months before a wrist gets slapped. The disappearance of the Harriers in Bowland is causing concern and if pushed and highlighted in the media would help

  13. What hard evidence do you have to prove or disprove it was a member of the shooting fraternity?

    Answer- Absolutely none! A ban on driven grouse shooting will not stop mortality in predator species, but will inevitably have the reverse effect. Less management =less wildlife. It really is that simple!

    I do not doubt that there are some individuals that will not stop at taking shots at raptor species. I strongly believe that these people should be dealt with, within the law. Equally, there are “twitchers” that will stop at nothing collecting the eggs of protected species for their own gain, which is why the REPB have staff employed to monitor nesting sites.

    1. Well let’s see now….

      A massive pile of peer-reviewed scientific papers that have demonstrated an unequivocal link between driven grouse shooting and raptor persecution, dating back several decades; a long line of sat-tagged raptors (golden eagles, red kites, white-tailed eagles and harriers) that have all ‘disappeared’ on driven grouse moors; a long list of gamekeepers from driven grouse moors with criminal convictions for raptor persecution; an industry with a well-documented hatred of hen harriers…….

      Who else has the motivation, means and opportunity to decimate raptor populations in our uplands? Perhaps you think it’s the Women’s Institute?

      But you carry on with your cries of denial – you’re doing more to help bring down driven grouse shooting than anything we could do.


    2. Richard, why don’t shooting estates adopt a walked-up only system, where they could use the current pricing structure for driven shooting (in other words, not losing any money), allowing predators to co-exist, especially raptors. Raptor watchpoints could be set up, encouraging more visitors and providing additional finances for the estate, as well as increasing employment opportunities. Some estates have adopted such practices. Why not all? It’s a simple solution that would end all conflict between shooting estates and conservationists, so we have to question why the estates are so reluctant to move in this direction.

      As for your suggestion that twitchers are responsible for stealing eggs, well that is not strictly true. Yes, some twitchers behave in a despicable manner, but the majority do not go around stealing eggs. Similarly, some photographers do not consider the welfare of the wildlife they pursue. Eggers, or egg collectors steal eggs, and the RSPB do monitor nest sites for this reason – as well as protecting nests from people such as gamekeepers and other members of the shooting industry!

    3. Richard, you seem to be either blissfully unaware of or totally indifferent to the fact that our native predators and all our native wildlife got on together just fine for millions of years until man came along to “manage” them. Now we see massive declines in almost all species of flora and fauna along with the destruction of vast areas of once prime natural habitat. There’s just one common denominator in all this decline, management by man for his own selfish ends.

      1. Well I suppose that includes all forestry and farm land, the destruction that goes on is amazing, grass toppers cutting rushes, killing voles and frogs wholesale, land drainage nearly every last wet spot has now been drained, all for more food production, to earn more money, early silage cuts many a nest or did when there weres nests, forestry planted along burns, smothering out the light and causing stream banks to erode and effect the water and fish, large areas clear felled and gripped to re plant causing further draining ,the list could go on and on.

    4. “Less management = less wildlife” . What an absolute crock. I’m pretty sure nature would get along just fine is man didn’t “manage” it so carefully. Shoots are black holes for all wildlife which doesn’t conform to the shoots desires and that is an undeniable fact.

    5. Richard , “management ” on grouse moors means the killing of anything that might predate on grouse, less management would equal less grouse but more variety of wildlife.

  14. Yes its high time it stopped, this year has been a record for grouse numbers, with many many big bags being made, surely theres enough for a few harriers as well, please keepers just let them be, and be proud that you have them,

  15. Well wildlife must be eternally grateful that we are “managing” them now .How on earth did they manage for centuries without our “help” ? ( and I’m not knocking the decent people who do go out their road to preserve our wildlife)

  16. Richard Towers I am floored! in one paragraph you state there is absolutely no evidence the crimes were committed by a member of the shooting fraternity and in the next you have no doubt that some individuals with guns would shoot raptors!!
    There are decades of documentation and word of mouth to dispute what you say. Harrier and Merlin nests trampled with eggs and shot with young on grouse moors north and south, Eagle owl shot, Eagle eyries burnt and their annual nesting trees felled, poisoned eggs and traps found out in known breeding territories. There is a common denominator where these crimes are committed.
    Ban the gun because the poison ban is failing.

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