SHAME, WRIT LARGE.
At least one brood of hen harriers has been removed from a grouse moor and taken in to captivity today as part of DEFRA’s/Natural England’s scandalous hen harrier brood meddling plan (part of the Government’s useless Hen Harrier Action Plan).
How do we know? Has DEFRA and Natural England behaved with impeccable transparency and ensured that everyone was kept up to date?
The news has been slipped out by Natural England, buried away at the foot of an earlier blog post on the brood meddling scheme (dated 6 June), presumably in the hope that nobody would notice.
To give him his due, Natural England CEO Tony Juniper did share this information on Twitter late this afternoon, but only after being repeatedly prompted by members of the public who were seeking information.
Here’s the link to the news (scroll down to the bottom of the page and squint your eyes a bit and you’ll find it):
[Photo by Laurie Campbell]
For the benefit of new readers, here’s a quick overview of what hen harrier brood meddling is all about.
We don’t know how many nests have been plundered, or how many chicks have been removed, nor the location(s) of those plundered nests. We do know that at least one grouse shooting estate in North Yorkshire was hoping to participate, even though this particular estate has a long history of raptor persecution, including at least one wildlife crime conviction for one of the estate’s employees. Marvellous.
We also know, from earlier FoIs on this subject, that the practical aspects of raising those hen harriers in captivity is being coordinated by the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) in Newent, Glos (shame on them) and that the Moorland Association are paying for the expertise of the ICBP and also for the satellite tags that all brood meddled hen harriers must be fitted with before release later this summer (it’s a condition of the licence).
We have asked Natural England today what measures it has implemented to protect any brood meddled hen harriers from armed criminals on grouse moors when the birds are released later this summer, but answer came there none.
What a dreadful day for hen harrier conservation in the UK. We began by learning about the barbaric killing of a young satellite-tagged hen harrier on a grouse moor in Strathbraan, Scotland, and we’ve ended by learning that England’s statutory nature conservation agency (ahem) has authorised the removal of young hen harriers from at least one grouse moor somewhere in England just to appease the influential criminals within the grouse shooting industry.