Responses to hen harrier satellite tag paper: Northern England Raptor Forum

The publication of the hen harrier satellite tag paper on Tuesday (here) that provided compelling evidence to highlight, yet again, the link between grouse moors and the illegal killing of hen harriers, has resulted in a flurry of responses from various individuals and organisations.

We’ll be looking at these responses in turn.

So far we’ve discussed the responses of Supt Nick Lyall (Chair, RPPDG) (here), BASC (here) and Dr Therese Coffey (DEFRA Wildlife Minister) (here).

This time we’re examining the response of the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF).

NERF has published a statement on its blog – see here.

It’s a powerful commentary on what has amounted to 15 years of failed partnership working in attempts to get the grouse shooting industry to oust its hen harrier-killing criminals.

The sense of frustration at its failure is palpable.

The NERF statement is a must-read for all those who keep telling us we need to engage with conflict resolution approaches and if only we could all sit down around the same table and sip tea and eat Custard Creams everything will be fine. Read the statement and you’ll understand why it won’t.

The time for more talking with those who represent and shield the criminals has just about run out (for some it already has) but NERF is prepared for one more throw of the dice and is “investing a temendous amount of goodwill” in the apparently rejuvenated RPPDG under the leadership of Supt Nick Lyall.

Hats off to the NERF membership – these are ordinary men and women who voluntarily dedicate huge amounts of time and expertise to study, monitor and try to safeguard birds of prey across the north of England, despite the appalling criminality within the game shooting industry that is allowed to continue year after year after year with devastating impacts on individual and on populations of some raptors. Many would have thrown in the towel a long time ago to avoid the aggravation – thank god the NERF members didn’t.

10 thoughts on “Responses to hen harrier satellite tag paper: Northern England Raptor Forum”

  1. Wow that is really strong. But, what with the evidence that NE has provided everyone with, there can be no doubt that it is justified.
    Those supporting the driven grouse shooting industry, in order to protect their reputation, need to consider if they wish to continue to be agents for organised criminal behaviour. I and I hope many others will question their motives even more than in the past.

  2. A strong and powerful statement, which you would of course expect me to endorse as the retired chairman of NERF. It makes quite clear where we the raptor workers and indeed most conservationists are at this moment in time and the sad history of how we got here. If history is not to repeat itself or continue in this sorry fashion with more of our Hen Harriers paying the ultimate price for government inaction this call to arms must be heeded by government ( But I’ll not be holding my breath!).
    We don’t, as the statement says, know how many untagged harriers have been lost during this study period but scientific logic says its 72% of those untagged birds that spend time on grouse moors. If 20% of birds were tagged that’s 5X 42 or 210 birds FFS, this has to be stopped.

  3. This response hits the nail on the head, when it questions how many more untagged birds have been illegally killed, and the complete and utter waste of time and resources over the past decade. Either gamekeepers don’t know what is happening on the moors they are responsible for and are therefore incompetent (ha ha) or they are complicit in the crimes that are occurring there (more likely). The next steps the NERF recommend are equally forthright and I hope they will be acted upon. I would introduce licencing of grouse moors, including strict conditions, and the ability to remove both licence and grants for suspected offenders. Force the landowners to take responsibility for what is happening on their land. No raptors – no licence – no grant – no income!

  4. The estates feel they have to offer the maximum number of grouse to be competitive.

    If all the estates followed the same approach, the legal one, grouse counts would drop substantially, but that would be true for all. The shooters could still have their days out killing birds, just far fewer of them. With no-where else offering better.

    Though personally I’m sure there’s a better way of using the land.

  5. Historically, negotiating with organised crime bosses has never been particularly productive. The ones we are dealing with here are wealthy, powerful and by all accounts untouchable. The tide is beginning to turn though and ever increasing public awareness of this national disgrace will pile on the pressure for radical change.

  6. Only direct action is going to resolve this. That or land reform. And land reform isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  7. A superb submission. Who could possibly disagree with the NERF proposals? By the way, have I blinked and missed the response from the Moorland Association?

    1. I’ve not seen one either Bill, perhaps Amanda hasn’t found time with all her coven duties as well to give us an insincere soundbite!

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