Well, well, well.
As predicted by absolutely everybody with half a brain, some of this year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks have ‘disappeared’ and it’s not even the end of September. Quelle surprise!
However, if you’d just seen the Moorland Association’s headline and first few paragraphs of their press release you’d never know that two of the five have disappeared in suspicious circumstances. This latest media output is perhaps the most disingenuous we’ve ever seen from the Moorland Association, and that’s saying something from an organisation notorious for distorting the facts!
In fact you have to get down as far as paragraph six before you’re told that two have disappeared, although the text doesn’t actually tell you that they’ve disappeared. Here’s the full press release, just for the record:
It’s quite the masterclass in distraction techniques, isn’t it?!
Mark Avery has already pulled apart some of this press release (see here) including comments about the maps not matching the text.
What we’re interested in is this:
- When did these two birds disappear? No dates are provided in the press release.
- In which county or counties did these two birds disappear? There is no geographic location provided in the press release. [See update at foot of blog]
- On what type of habitat did the last known fix come from for each tag? Was it a grouse moor in one or both cases?
- Were the last two locations on land owned/managed by Moorland Association members?
- What sort of tags were the two birds carrying and what were the details of each tag’s transmission cycle? (i.e. how many data transfer cycles have now passed without data being transmitted)?
- Who is monitoring the tag data?
- Have the police been informed? If so, who informed them? Was it the Moorland Association or was it somebody else?
- Are these two disappearances the subject of a live police investigation? [See update at foot of blog]
- Have the police been given access to the tag data?
- Have any police searches been carried out? If yes, were these searches undertaken without giving the landowner prior notification?
- Why hasn’t Natural England made a statement?
- What is Natural England’s policy for declaring the brood meddling trial a failure? i.e. How many satellite tagged brood meddled chicks have to ‘disappear’ before Natural England makes that declaration? One? Two? Three? Four? Five? This question was actually put to Natural England during a recent meeting between Wild Justice & Natural England’s interim CEO and one of its Directors. Natural England said they didn’t know but would find out. So far they haven’t come back with an answer.
- When will DEFRA acknowledge that the grouse shooting industry is completely out of control and unable to self-regulate?
- And when will DEFRA do something about it?
For those who might have missed it, here’s what the Government-commissioned science says about satellite-tagged hen harriers in northern England – 72% of those tagged so far [by Natural England] have been done in on grouse moors (see here). We await the results of the RSPB’s five-year tagging data with interest.
And for those who might have missed it, here’s the Moorland Association practically begging its members not to kill any hen harriers this year (see here).
Police Supt Nick Lyall has tweeted the following this evening:
UPDATE 1 October 2019: Moorland Association’s brood meddling press release amounts to abuse of process (here)
UPDATE 3 October 2019: When will Natural England pull the plug on hen harrier brood meddling? (here)
UPDATE 4 October 2019: Brood meddled hen harrier chick vanished from grouse moor on Bowes Estate, County Durham (here)
UPDATE 8 October 2019: 2nd brood meddled hen harrier chick vanished from grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)
UPDATE 15 October 2019: 3rd brood meddled hen harrier ‘disappears’ in suspicious circumstances (here)