Desperate days as 5th male hen harrier ‘disappears’

A male hen harrier Another male hen harrier has ‘disappeared’ from an active nest – the 5th this year.

Three males vanished from nesting territories in Bowland in late April/early May (see here).

Another male vanished from its nesting territory on Geltsdale last week (see here).

And now the 5th – last seen on the United Utilities Estate in Bowland on 29th May (see here).

Is it shocking news? Yes, but not because we didn’t expect it. It’s shocking because the persecution of this species is so, so brazen.

It should now be clear (as if it hasn’t been for decades) that the people responsible, and the grouse-shooting industry that shields them, need to be brought to their knees.

We can all do that.

We must do that.

We will find a way to do that.

21 thoughts on “Desperate days as 5th male hen harrier ‘disappears’”

  1. They’re just laughing at us, they don’t give a damn about protected wildlife because they know full well that not a damn thing will be done to put a stop to it. It’s high time questions were asked in the house regarding the serious plight of our so-called legally protected Raptors at the hands of the stalwarts of our society, many of which are members of parliament or the lords, or both ???

  2. How can we stop this? How can anyone hope to put a stop to this? These people are beyond reason and seemingly way beyond the reach of the law. Is it even about the birds to them anymore, or is it simply a way to piss off the conservation bodies they somehow see as the enemy in this ‘us and them’ war? What can be done against such ignorant prejudice?

    1. My feelings exactly, this isn’t ‘just’ bog standard rabid persecution anymore it’s deliberately trying to piss off the conservation community, co-ordinated effort to get rid of hen harriers in England is what it looks like, there’s planning behind this. Some form of direct action that’s within the law and is safe concerning shooting is involved needs to be considered. Would flying big Hen Harrier kites from public footpaths on moors during and after ‘glorious’ twelth make a statement to the shooting fraternity, rub their nose in it even slightly? I’m sure it wouldn’t disturb the grouse being driven, of course. We need to think about how our presence can be felt on the grouse moors, we’re at rock bottom now.

  3. Its getting to the stage where these birds will need armed escorts just like the last Rhinos in Africa.

  4. With a Conservative government in office it is full and open season on wildlife of all kinds. That is a simple and sad fact.

  5. Until the law is taken seriously, and a landowner goes to jail – not a gamekeeper – a Lord, an owner is made an example of for not upholding THE LAW is prosecuted for not implementing protection, then nothing but extinction is coming … and a deep and ensuing hatred of people who shoot by those that don’t ….

  6. Its a crying shame, they will be extinct within a few years if this carries on, ignorant people are doing this, cant possibly be all natural causes, 1 yes but not this many, how far would the male harrier go away from its nest ?who are the neighbouring shoots,? have the police been told about this? , come on keepers give them a chance,, its going to be a crap year for grouse anyway, bloody weather,

  7. We have to harness the efforts of all those on our side and be more aggressive with our actions.I am happy to take part in direct action (within the law of course) to raise this subject to the public’s conscience.It is a fight where we have powerful groups against us, but that should not stop us taking the fight to them.We need to think how we can change the playing field, as clearly they are continuing regardless.

  8. If you are a United Utilities customer like I am, then write to them and tell them and let them know the current situation is not acceptable. Below is a copy of my letter after the disappearance of the 3 males earlier this season. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply though. They still haven’t had the courtesy to respond.

    Dear Sirs

    I am not accustomed to writing emails of this type, but as a UU customer I feel it is my duty to voice my anger and concern regarding the dismal breeding performance of the Hen Harrier on UU land in recent years. In particular I am disgusted by the recent disappearance of the 3 male Hen Harriers from UU Bowland breeding territories. I have copied my local MP Rosie Cooper into this email in the hope that she may also raise this issue with you.

    Whilst on your website you claim that your expertise does not lie in “conservation”, you would have to be naïve and ill-informed beyond belief to not recognise the fact that these 3 male Hen Harriers have been lost due to persecution. Furthermore it is highly likely that your own tenants are responsible for this despicable crime. I would be grateful if you could explain to me how an organisation of the size of United Utilities with its corporate responsibility to its stakeholders and to members of public has allowed the Hen Harrier to become “extinct” as a breeding bird on its land. I am well aware that the persecution of this bird by the grouse shooting industry has not always necessarily taken place on UU land, but by allowing driven grouse shooting to take place you are condoning the current abysmal situation.

    Your Corporate Responsibility Report 2014 states that :-“Wildlife was not only protected, but frequently improved, as a result of our interventions. For example, hen harriers returned to our Bowland Estate for the first time in two years, and our operational sites continued to provide a haven for wildlife, through sensitive management”. I would say that this is putting a positive spin on things to say the least. There were far more Hen Harriers breeding on land in Bowland in the years and decades prior to the ridiculous state of affairs of recent years.

    I would be grateful if you could explain to me as a United Utilities customer what benefit you perceive that driven grouse shooting brings to the wildlife of Bowland and in particular what benefit a Schedule 1 protected species such as the Hen Harrier gets from this arrangement. I would also like to know what benefit you think that United Utilities receives from being associated with and even implicated in the crimes committed by these shooting estates.

    If you truly believe in your CSR statement of “Working to protect and enhance our environment” I would expect United Utilities to be taking a proactive stance in banning the shooting of grouse on the estates that it owns until the current situation regarding the persecution of this magnificent species is resolved.

    I look forward to receiving your response to my email in due course.

    1. A very good letter Mal. I am absolutely disgusted with United Utilities for not having the common decency to even reply. They are obviously not a company that cares about their customers.

  9. My fear is that with source populations elsewhere, e.g. Scotland, fresh pairs will go on and on attempting to nest in England, and so there’ll be a never-ending ‘supply’ of naive birds getting shot, year in, year out. They may fail to nest, but new birds will keep trying, and keep vanishing. This killing will never end.

  10. It is shocking news that yet another nest has failed because a male harrier has disappeared. However I feel we must be careful of saying that every missing bird is down to gamekeepers. Five in one area must raise some doubt , but some birds are lost to natural predation and I worry that one day one of these birds may be confirmed of dying in this way and we will face a backlash from the shooting brigade of crying wolf. There is already a campaign saying that conservationist are happy to watch a nest of eggs fail rather than intervening and artifically rearing the chicks, so we are affecting the population rather than helping it.

    1. Obviously, some Hen Harriers will die naturally, but it does seem a bit strange that five males have disappeared from this area, yet none of the sitting females (considerably more vulnerable) have fallen victim to predators, or died from other natural causes. We must also remember, that being keepered ground, there will be very few predators in the area, so I would think it would be fair to suggest that all of these males have been illegally killed.

      The only people having a detrimental impact on the Hen Harrier population are the criminal gamekeepers and landowners. There’s no-one else illegally trapping, shooting, poisoning and bludgeoning adults, or trampling on nests, eggs and chicks.

      As Mike Groves has stated below, this has been an organised operation, and I would suggest that it has been the shooting industry’s co-ordinated, deceitful, and illegal attempt to get the brood management issue back on the table, and have a pathetically sly dig at the RSPB for “allowing the nests to fail”.

      Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. The only thing that has caused the failure of these nests, is the relentless persecution carried out by certain members of the shooting industry. Nothing else.

  11. Steve, thats exactly what these places are, a sink for hookey bills and whatever they dont like to fly into and be killed.

  12. Mass peaceful trespass on the 12th might hit them where it hurts – in their wallets. This has to stop now.

  13. Seems to me that this has been a pre-planned military style operation carried out by probably a small group of sadistic individuals. Catching this type of person will most likely prove virtually impossible unless perhaps a substantial (e.g. more than £10,000) reward is offered which may tempt someone out of the woodwork.

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