Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ on Yorkshire Dales National Park grouse moor

North Yorkshire Police have today been searching an unnamed grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for a ‘missing’ satellite-tagged hen harrier:

Here’s a map of Craven District in North Yorkshire (outlined in red), covering part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and nestled inbetween the Bowland and Nidderdale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – all raptor persecution hotspots:

It’s good to see North Yorkshire Police out in force to conduct this search. We’ll await an official press release from North Yorkshire Police and Natural England for the details about this particular satellite-tagged hen harrier.


23 October 2017: ‘No further comment’ from Natural England on latest missing hen harrier – see here

16 November 2017: Hen harrier missing on grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park is ‘John’ – see here

32 thoughts on “Satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ on Yorkshire Dales National Park grouse moor”

  1. Good to see that the North Yorkshire RTFs are getting their acts together with a decent manpower response to this latest incident. This has been a long time coming and it is hoped that this higher level of response will be matched in future cases of this type. With the seemingly increasing level of raptor persecution in the county and growing public antagonism towards these deeds, their perpetrators and those who employ them, maybe staffing levels in North Yorkshire Police will be increased to reflect the dire state of wildlife crime which is a stain on the County’s reputation.

  2. “Possibly died and been buried”?

    Probably illegally killed then buried, would be more believable. If it had died naturally, then there would be no need to bury it.

  3. Surprise , surprise !
    This is why I have avoided spending my holiday money in this area for decades.
    I have also persuaded many others to do the same.
    Yorshire Dales & N York Moors National Parks [ & all other driven grouse areas ] should not be supported until this criminality is finally ended.
    Maybe this is one of the few harriers to die a natural death on the moors, but that doesn’t alter the appalling reality of raptor destruction there.

    Keep up the pressure !

  4. Perhaps there was a low level, primary search for this bird, which would have been sensible if any evidence of wrongdoing could be found…?….I fully agree with Marco that burying a bird would be a clear admission of guilt…..if all these harriers are dying naturally, isnt it strange how they are never found and handed in by gamekeepers?…that would be the way to build up trust wouldnt it?

    1. Spot on, Dave. If these birds were dying naturally, the shooting industry would be itching to hand over the corpse as “proof” that they weren’t being killed illegally.

      Never seems to happen, though!

    2. That’s a really good point, Dave. Odd that It isn’t happening. They prefer to do a mass march in Edsel instead to evidence ‘solidarity’ rather than clean up their act….

  5. Any information on time, date and exact location of last signal? – If this sets any kind of precedent it’s very welcome – all credit to the police, but when were they informed and by whom? – did they get there quickly enough?

  6. So sad. I hope they locate it. I reported a nasty, young gamekeeper from Bowland who glorified his fox kills on social media. When I asked him to take his pictures down he sent me a picture of another fox kill with him standing beside it giving me the finger. His employer and the RSPCA were none too happy. Interestingly his profile was taken down shortly after. I actually think some of these people are psychopaths.

    1. A few years ago, I can’t remember the exact one, two apprentice game keepers in Scotland were convicted of serious animal cruelty offences in the same summer. One in Glasgow for kicking a hedgehog to death, the other in Broxburn for involvement in badger baiting. Where are they now?

    2. If you look at the traits of a sociopath, many of them are indelibly linked to the characteristics of most gamekeepers, and those that support blood sports.

  7. NE involved just to make sure any evidence against the grouse industry is covered up? Was this a NE tag or an RSPB one?

  8. It’s good that the police attended in some force and are publicising it. It’s clear from the second post that someone had been asking why “so many” officers were involved.

  9. Looks like it might appear on an NE spreadsheet with tag failed, no location, cause of tag failure not known.

  10. I think that the Police have responded quickly and in numbers as a direct result of the pressure that has been bought to bear on them by this blog and its supporters. We have moved on from just press releases.

    Based on past experience, despite what NE will say, it was almost certainly shot. The comments made above are clear and correct in my view.

    Secondly it was likely a shotgun that caused its demise.

    It is again extremely likely that the shotgun owner was licenced to hold this gun by Police in Yorkshire. This should help them narrow the crime down a bit.

    The next stage will be to get a suspect into a court of law.

  11. I’ve had further thoughts on this – It’s difficult to see or understand why such a seemingly large police presence, welcome perhaps as it is, was turned out for this incident. It was clearly publicised as well, even though the chances of success in finding the missing bird were, very likely, low to nil.
    Since we don’t know when the incident was reported, we have no way of knowing whether this was a quick reaction or a search a few days in the planning. Was the incident reported to the police via the landowner and perhaps a few days late; could this be the reaction of a police force frustrated by adverse publicity and having little chance of successfully getting someone to court. This could be a calculated police response with the seemingly “over the top” reaction sending a clear message to the “perpetrator”, with accompanying publicity, that this type of incident is no longer low profile. The land manager will not have enjoyed seeing the numbers of police present, and will have no end of problems finding explanations.

    1. Probably safe to say the landowner knew the police were coming. As per Natural England’s stated protocol for searching for ‘missing’ sat tagged hen harriers:

      1. Report missing bird to local police, NWCU and RSPB.
      2. We then seek permission of the landowner to search for the bird, which has never been refused.

      1. NE would have no control over police numbers or the attached publicity that seems to be the case here. The landowner would presumably only agree to a search as long as there was nothing to indicate that the estate were in any way implicated. If the signal had failed a few days earlier, the police would have had to wait for NE to arrange a planned visit, at the landowner’s discretion – would very early on a Sunday morning be the landowner’s best time for keeping the incident low profile? – at least the police appear to have been up-front and didn’t send two plain-clothes officers, in an unmarked car. I recognise this is all a bit hypothetical – I’m only trying to show how the police could well be becoming frustrated in this type of situation. You know the drill – when it comes to looking at statistics some time later – police called, search carried out – nothing found. I realise I’m pushing the envelope a bit here – it would be helpful if the reporting to police, times etc., was totally transparent. Otherwise there’s no real desire on the part of NE to root out criminality.

  12. It’s possible that the police advised NE not to alert the land owner and made an unannounced visit.

    If the land owner was giving notice of the police visit then the whole thing has been at best a waste of time and money and at worst a disingenuous piece of virtue signalling.

    The police should only have been involved in a search if criminality was suspected.

    If criminality was suspected then, on a precautionary basis, the police should have been working on the assumption that the land owner or his agents might have been involved and therefore should not have been given advance warning of the search.

    It will be interesting to see what further information emerges.

  13. Why don’t we just sit back and await the official account. There could be all manner of possible explanations. Let’s give credit to the Police for an obvious good turnout – whatever the agenda may have been.

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