Natural England has today published a short, poorly-detailed update on this year’s hen harrier brood meddling trial.
For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA and carried out by Natural England (NE), in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.
[Cartoon by Dr Gerard Hobley]
In today’s update, here’s what NE has to say:
So it looks like at least two hen harrier nests have been meddled with in this year’s trial – but of course NE hasn’t provided any further detail of the number nor locations of those nests, nor of the release site(s). We wouldn’t expect them to say exactly where these locations are – that would be counterproductive for a species that is so heavily persecuted, but a county-level disclosure would have been useful.
The death of one of the brood meddled hen harrier chicks prior to release is concerning and it’ll be interesting to hear more about the cause of death.
Although getting info out of Natural England is a painful exercise. Here’s an example of some recent correspondence on the fates of last year’s five brood meddled hen harrier chicks:
Of course we now know that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harriers are ‘missing’ presumed dead, four of them in suspicious circumstances (see here). They form part of the list of 42 hen harriers that we know are either missing in suspicious circumstances or have been found illegally killed, since 2018, the majority on or near driven grouse moors (see here).
How many of this year’s brood meddled chicks do you think will survive to Christmas?
What’s that famous quote?
‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results‘.