Yes, you did read the headline correctly.
We’ve received reports from a number of independent sources that at the November 2017 meeting of DEFRA’s Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), the Director of the Moorland Association (the mouthpiece for grouse moor owners in England), Amanda Anderson, said that grouse moor managers would be submitting applications to Natural England for licences to kill Marsh harriers.
[Photo by Markus Varesuvo]
That’ll be the Marsh harriers that are Amber listed on the UK Birds of Conservation Concern.
The Marsh harriers that are recovering from a virtual population wipeout – down to one known breeding pair in 1971 thanks to a combination of illegal persecution, habitat loss and DDT and currently with an estimated breeding population of 400-450 pairs.
The Marsh harriers that are locally common in some areas such as East Anglia but still extremely rare or absent in many other areas.
The Marsh harriers that most commonly breed in lowland wetland habitat, particularly reedbeds but increasingly on farmland too.
The Marsh harriers that very rarely breed on upland grouse moors although when they do, they are illegally targeted by men dressed as gamekeepers.
[Photo by George Reszeter]
It’s hard to comprehend the news that grouse moor owners want licences to kill this species. It’s so utterly ludicrous to think that a handful of Marsh harriers would pose any serious threat to the hundreds of thousands of red grouse that are raised on grouse moors just to be shot, for fun.
And yet these are the grouse moor owners who claim to want breeding Hen harriers back on these moors!
This latest move makes it quite clear that the grouse-shooting industry is beyond redemption. There’s no reasoning with people who think that Marsh harriers need to be killed because they’re perceived to be a threat to the viability of an upland grouse shoot.
If you’ve managed to pick up your jaw off the floor, you might want to consider signing this e-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. It really is time to throw this filthy, regressive, Victorian ‘sport’ on to the bonfire of history.
UPDATE 30 November 2017: More on the grouse-shooting industry’s desire to kill Marsh harriers (here)
UPDATE 19 January 2018: Update on claim that grouse moor owners want licences to kill Marsh harriers (here)
UPDATE 12 November 2018: Licences to kill Marsh harriers on grouse moors – an update (here)