The Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) has published a damning criticism of DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan in what it describes as a Year 1 Assessment.
The Plan, as you know, was wheeled out by DEFRA in January 2016 and has been widely criticised by conservation organisations, not least for including the controversial element of brood meddling, i.e. removing hen harriers from driven grouse moors during the breeding season so there are more red grouse available to be shot by wealthy gunmen, and then releasing the harriers back on to the moors in the autumn to coincide with, er, the grouse shooting season. Genius.
NERF’s criticism of the Plan doesn’t include any surprises apart from the news that NERF was refused a seat at the table when the Plan was being formulated. NERF contends that the Plan in its current format is unworkable and that the estimated £1.39 million pounds being thrown at it from the public purse should be diverted to help monitoring and enforcement. They’ve got a point.
It’s good to see NERF utilise their undisputed expertise and experience and make clear their position on what is one of the most controversial issues in UK conservation. More of that, please!
The NERF statement can be read here
8 thoughts on “Raptor groups slam DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Plan”
An excellent statement, setting out the realities of the present situation in a reasonable and realistic manner.
Who would have thought that when we were calling DEFRA’s plan no better than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic that we were overestimating their competence and motivations. To strain the metaphor, it now looks like DEFRA were painting the iceberg in midnight blue and nicking the lifeboats. They really are reversing the adage about not assuming malice until incompetence has been ruled out, now we really do have to assume malice as the first resort because the powers that be and their allies like to try and hide malice under the fig leaf of ineffectiveness.
Excellent, especially ‘Background’.
Would have liked to read a bit more on their objection to the lowland re-introduction scheme.
Way back in the Environment Council days a southern introduction scheme was proposed by one of the shooting side organisations. It was quite clear that this was a diversion to (1) stop us talking about the real issues around persecution. (2) to have a population in England “off moor” to take the pressure off grouse moor managers to stop persecution. Frankly the proposer thought that there was no place for harriers on grouse moors. We didn’t buy into it then and see no reason to change that view. Indeed as the statement says one sat tagged Harrier disappeared in that area. If we had a healthy harrier population they could well colonise naturally they do already occur in winter. It is however very clearly not the main issue and surely that deserves all the attention. Then there is the problem of where is there a donor population fulfilling IUCN guidelines.
In particular, given the probability that harriers released in lowlands would head for the killing fields in the uplands, how could the criterion – that the cause of their original demise had been removed from the area into which it was proposed that they should be released – be met. It is a fallacy to pretend that they would stay in the lowland release area.
The National Wildlife Crime Unit sounds good but without dedicated Wildlife Crime Officers with the specialist skills and knowledge, then the effectiveness of the group, in collaboration with other groups, will simply be reduced.
My nearby county has no Wildlife Crime Officers.
I recently reported 4 crimes. The police sent a local copper along to the estate in question but the first officer told me bluntly she hadn’t a clue about wildlife crime and suggested I contact the Badger Trust or RSPB – both of whom told me to contact the police!
Defra are not nor ever have been fit for purpose
Funny how they can find all that money for this ludicrous plan…when “all” that is needed is proper enforcement at a fraction of that cost. Time to wind up some politicians – they usually respond when wasting public money is involved [at least there will be some who do!].