Grouse shooting industry ‘experts’ unable to identify a hen harrier!

This is amusing.

The Moorland Association (a wealthy lobby group for grouse moor owners) has published a slick video where they’re trying to claim credit for ‘Bringing back our English Hen Harriers’ (you know, the hen harriers that have been brought to the verge of breeding extinction by, er, criminals on grouse moors).

Except it’s not as slick as they would have liked. Thanks to Nick Williams (@TheFalconBirder) for noticing this:

This production must have cost a fair bit – the Moorland Association members must be thrilled with the result! And isn’t it interesting how the Moorland Association wants the credit for the success of a few hen harrier breeding attempts and yet refuses point blank to ever, ever, ever accept any responsibility when hen harriers (and other raptors) are either killed or ‘disappear’ on Moorland Association members’ grouse moors?

It’s not just the Moorland Association that can’t identify a hen harrier. Natural England also seems to be struggling:

An inability to identify an easily-recognisable species is a common theme amongst grouse moor ‘experts’. Here’s Scottish Land & Estates (the Scottish lobby group for landowners) using an image of a white-tailed eagle to illustrate a call for help to find two ‘missing’ golden eagles:

These organisations should take BASC’s lead and forget about trying to craft an image of concern for threatened raptors. Instead, just get your PR department to produce a statement that portrays conservationists as a security risk:

Incidentally, the ‘triumph’ BASC is referring to is the news that this year England holds just 5% of the number of breeding hen harriers it should have. It’s telling that BASC takes pride in such a failure.

So, BASC, who is it that decides whether we’re ‘extremists’, as you described Chris Packham & Mark Avery when they were banned from the Game Fair a few weeks ago? Are they on MI5’s watch list, or something? Or is this a word you’ve chosen in a pathetic attempt to smear their reputations and dissuade people from listening to them?

What’s ‘dangerous’ about using the democratic process to call for a ban on driven grouse shooting? Have you reported us to the police? The public need to be protected from such ‘dangerous’ activity!

And what, exactly, is our ‘animal rights agenda’? Could you explain this, please?

Less than 48 hours ago, Wild Justice launched a new petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. So far more than 40,000 so-called ‘extremists with a dangerous animal rights agenda’ have signed it. You can too –HERE.

23 thoughts on “Grouse shooting industry ‘experts’ unable to identify a hen harrier!”

  1. The video is actually very cheaply made. As someone who does this sort of thing for a living I could have probably knocked it up in an afternoon given the right footage and images. Except of course I can tell the difference between a Hen Harrier and a March Harrier.

  2. I had noticed that the opening sequence was a male Marsh Harrier and alerted a number of colleagues in NERF, the Pallid Harrier I had missed thinking it a moulting male Hen Harrier. However both along with YFTBs Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers would suggest that supporters and participants in DGS have difficulty in identifying the bird they think of as their “bete noir.” Funny if it wasn’t so tragic that they can probably only ID them when they are corpses. Even then it may be difficult for them!
    I hope that MA didn’t pay too much for the film and also trust that the still of the harrier nest was taken under licence. The adults could have been taken anywhere at any nest as I am reliably informed that the fed nest in the Nidderdale AONB was parented by a first summer not adult male.

  3. This would be really funny if it were not so serious.
    I can accept the ignorance of the shooting fraternity as I have so little regard for them in the first place but Natural England the body which should command respect [not from me] and be protecting vulnerable species and upholding the Law. How can N E protect anything if they cannot identify it?????

  4. Can the grouse shooters not tell the difference between a hen harrier and a foot? They’ve certainly shot themselves in the foot with this piece of anti-harrier propaganda. How strange that they express false concern for the conservation status of one of our most magnificent raptor species, which many of their gamekeepers will happily shoot on sight. Perhaps they just mistake a brown harrier for a red grouse?

    The only real solution to the harrier persecution “problem” is to ban grouse shooting.

  5. I am ashamed to say that BASC is an outgrowth of WAGBI, an organisation founded by my great grandfather – a man of limited emotional intelligence and a voracious lust for killing. Happily I never met him, but I grew up in the aftermath of his demise. I wrote a blog about it all here:
    BASC is still just a way for the murderers of wildfowl and other birds to ensure that their bloodlust will be perpetuated into the future by tying it to conservation. This was the explicit motive of my great grandfather; he realised quickly that unless there were limits set to the killing – rules of engagement – then soon there would be nothing left to kill. I am in possession of his diaries. They make for grizzly reading.

    1. Interesting article Duncan. I was particulalry struck by the line in the BASC link you provide:

      “growing enthusiasm of extremists bent on total protection of wild birds.”

      The fact that they continually refer to conservationsists as ‘extremists’ is a subtle but telling piece of spin. When in fact in modern times, their members are the extremists.

  6. Reminds me of the time, back in the early ’70s when a wildfowler shot a Snowy Owl! .
    He claimed he thought it was a Goose!
    The sooner they bring in a rigorous bird identification exam as part of the shotgun licence application, the safer our wildlife will be!

  7. In a similar vein, have you seen the guff on the Moorland Association’s FB page dated 11 August at 19:41 where they wax lyrical about the brood meddling scheme?

    They then say this about some released fledglings from the scheme:

    “We are delighted with the successes of this year and look forward to the chicks returning to breed on the grouse moor next year.”

    So clearly they have no idea about natal dispersal in hen harriers or the fact that females take two years to reach sexual maturity and males three years.

    Evidence again that all this “delight” is just a sham!

    1. I agree entirely about the DGS cabal, however both sexes of Hen Harrier can and often do breed in their first summer.

  8. To them, they don’t care. There is no difference in their minds, a harrier is a harrier. Which really does say it all. What I worry about is that a lot of the British public probably does not understand the difference either and also thinks a harrier is a harrier. That the different types are only technical details. That is the concern, that we have not done enough make sure that the British public knows the different types and why they matter. The public are thick as a brick sandwich, is what I’m saying; and I think the viewing figures for Love Island bear my concerns out on that score.

    1. It’s true. I believe Mark Avery said that the hen harrier needs more friends. We should all get out into the high street / retail park / mall with a hen harrier – they are such beautiful birds we’ll easily win over the Love Islanders!

      1. Falconry displays have never been more popular. It’s a pity more don’t highlight raptor persecution, and I know for a fact the RSPB usually plays down bird of prey killing on its stalls as being ‘too strong’. That needs to change. There’s massive scope for raising public awareness.

        1. I agree, I notice that Falconry displays tend to major on vulture poisonings in Africa to prevent poached carcasses being discovered.

          Once again the situation in Africa is promulgated giving the public the warmth that species extinctions only occur in far away places of poor corrupt countries. BUT these displays tend to do a lot of business with country fairs etc. I bet if they started to major on UK raptor persecution their bookings would soon dry up.

  9. Maybe that’s why there are so many dead animals of all kinds on grouse moors…. they are killed in case they are Hen Harriers! Watch out Sparrows!!!

    1. Yes the nest that was not brood meddled on Swinton was fed in case they had the temerity to eat grouse. Hardly whole hearted support for harriers. Both should not be allowed on the same nests IMO.

      1. I thought they didnt do diversionary feeding as it was not cost effective? So now they are using the successful technique they refuse to use…. to help fake the success of the unsustainable technique they want to trial as a diversion……couldn’t make it up.

  10. Be careful that you don’t give them an ‘out’ as in ‘sheesh, sorry but it seems we have been shooting Hen Harriers, we thought they were gulls, our bad !!’

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