Satellite-tagged hen harrier Lia found dead in suspicious circumstances

The RSPB has reported the suspicious death of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier.

‘Lia’ was tagged at a nest in north Wales in 2017 and after fledging she spent a bit of time in the Brecon Beacons National Park before a brief sojourn to Somerset, and then had returned to settle in mid-Wales.

[Photo of Lia by Guy Anderson]

In May this year the engineering data from her tag indicated she was dead and the RSPB located her decomposed corpse in a sheep field near the village of Tylwch, south of Llanidloes, an area with an apparent history of illegal raptor persecution.

[Location map from RSPB]:

Lia’s corpse was sent to the Zoological Society of London for a post mortem. Unfortunately a cause of death couldn’t be established but the vets did detect a fractured tail feather.

[Photo of fractured tail feather, via RSPB]:

ZSL’s post mortem report stated that fractures of this type “have previously been found in a hen harrier proven to have been shot with ammunition (Hopkins et al 2015). No other signs of shooting were detected in this bird“.

The Hopkins et al (2015) paper related to a pioneering forensic examination of Bowland Betty (a hen harrier found shot on a Swinton Estate grouse moor in Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB in 2012) that detected a tiny fragment of lead which confirmed she had been shot, confounding the protests of the Countryside Alliance.

Although Lia’s cause of death was inconclusive, Dyfed Powys Police have been treating it as suspicious and are investigating.

For further details of Lia’s demise, please read the RSPB’s latest Skydancer blog here

5 thoughts on “Satellite-tagged hen harrier Lia found dead in suspicious circumstances”

  1. How about a Countryside slogan that reads
    “Watch out there’s sxxt about” Yeah am getting sick to the stomach with cowards killing our Natural Hertitage and those who are empowered to do something about it are just as weak as those doing the killing.

  2. Someone pointed out on twitter that the broken tail feather may not necessary be a result of shot “The tail feather damage was consistent with acute trauma, such as shooting, fighting or a collision” Hopkins et al 2015 pers. comm. Brian Etheridge, July 18, 2013.

    Surely, in the event of damage resulting from a collision/ fight there would be additional damaged feathers? feathers with bent quills as example.

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