43 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

Last month we blogged that at least 42 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 43 hen harriers, ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018.

Here’s the blog we’ll publish every time this list is updated:

It’s getting to that time of year when the grouse shooting industry pumps out its patently misleading propaganda relating to hen harrier conservation in the UK. The aim is to hoodwink the public in to believing that the industry loves hen harriers and is doing all it can to protect and nurture the tiny remnant breeding population (but conveniently forgetting to mention that the breeding population is only in such dire straits because the grouse shooting industry has been ruthless in its maniacal intolerance of this supposedly protected species).

And the industry’s pursuit of the hen harrier is not simply ‘historical’ or indicative of past behaviour, as some would have us believe. It is on-going, it is current, and it is relentless.

To illustrate this fact, we intend to keep a running tally of all the hen harriers that we know (because most of these victims had been fitted with a satellite tag) to have either ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances or have been confirmed as being illegally killed since 2018.

Why only since 2018 when we know that hen harriers have been a persecution target for years and years and years? Well, 2018 is the year that the grouse shooting industry ‘leaders’ would have us believe that the criminal persecution of hen harriers had stopped and that these birds were being welcomed back on to the UK’s grouse moors (see here).

This assertion was made shortly before the publication of a devastating new scientific paper that demonstrated that 72% of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were confirmed or considered likely to have been illegally killed, and this was ten times more likely to occur over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses (see here).

We only started compiling this list of dead / missing hen harriers in June when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It was then further updated when we learned that two more satellite-tagged hen harriers had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park during the Coronvirus lockdown (see here).

It’s now time to update the death list again, as we’ve learned of yet another satellite-tagged hen harrier that ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, this time a bird called ‘Silver’ who vanished from a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate on 27th May 2020 (see here).

That brings the gruesome tally to 43 hen harriers.

Four Three.

Forty three.

In the space of two years.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these cases. We have every expectation that this list will be updated again in the near future.

For now, here are the 43:

February 2018: Hen harrier Saorsa ‘disappeared’ in the Angus Glens in Scotland (here). The Scottish Gamekeepers Association later published wholly inaccurate information claiming the bird had been re-sighted. The RSPB dismissed this as “completely false” (here).

5 February 2018: Hen harrier Marc ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Durham (here)

9 February 2018: Hen harrier Aalin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Blue ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park (here)

March 2018: Hen harrier Finn ‘disappeared’ near Moffat in Scotland (here)

18 April 2018: Hen harrier Lia ‘disappeared’ in Wales and her corpse was retrieved in a field in May 2018. Cause of death was unconfirmed but police treating death as suspicious (here)

8 August 2018: Hen harrier Hilma ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Northumberland (here).

16 August 2018: Hen harrier Athena ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

26 August 2018: Hen Harrier Octavia ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here)

29 August 2018: Hen harrier Margot ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

29 August 2018: Hen Harrier Heulwen ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Wales (here)

3 September 2018: Hen harrier Stelmaria ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

24 September 2018: Hen harrier Heather ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here)

2 October 2018: Hen harrier Mabel ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

3 October 2018: Hen Harrier Thor ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Bowland, Lanacashire (here)

23 October 2018: Hen harrier Tom ‘disappeared’ in South Wales (here)

26 October 2018: Hen harrier Arthur ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here)

1 November 2018: Hen harrier Barney ‘disappeared’ on Bodmin Moor (here)

10 November 2018: Hen harrier Rannoch ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Scotland (here). Her corpse was found nearby in May 2019 – she’d been killed in an illegally-set spring trap (here).

14 November 2018: Hen harrier River ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Nidderdale AONB (here). Her corpse was found nearby in April 2019 – she’d been illegally shot (here).

16 January 2019: Hen harrier Vulcan ‘disappeared’ in Wiltshire close to Natural England’s proposed reintroduction site (here)

7 February 2019: Hen harrier Skylar ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (here)

22 April 2019: Hen harrier Marci ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

26 April 2019: Hen harrier Rain ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Nairnshire (here)

11 May 2019: An untagged male hen harrier was caught in an illegally-set trap next to his nest on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire. He didn’t survive (here)

7 June 2019: An untagged hen harrier was found dead on a grouse moor in Scotland. A post mortem stated the bird had died as a result of ‘penetrating trauma’ injuries and that this bird had previously been shot (here)

5 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 1 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor nr Dalnaspidal on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park (here)

11 September 2019: Hen harrier Romario ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

14 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183704) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

23 September 2019: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #55149) ‘disappeared’ in North Pennines (here)

24 September 2019: Wildland Hen Harrier 2 ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor at Invercauld in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

10 October 2019: Hen harrier Ada ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the North Pennines AONB (here)

12 October 2019: Hen harrier Thistle ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Sutherland (here)

18 October 2019: Member of the public reports the witnessed shooting of an untagged male hen harrier on White Syke Hill in North Yorkshire (here)

November 2019: Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Ireland (here)

January 2020: Members of the public report the witnessed shooting of a male hen harrier on Threshfield Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

1 April 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183703) ‘disappeared’ in unnamed location, tag intermittent (here)

5 April 2020: Hen harrier Hoolie ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

8 April 2020: Hen harrier Marlin ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park (here)

21 May 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2019, #183701) ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in Cumbria shortly after returning from wintering in France (here)

27 May 2020: Hen harrier Silver ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor on Leadhills Estate, Scotland (here)

To be continued……..

Anybody still wondering why the grouse shooting industry wants us to stop fitting satellite tags?


If you’re sick to the back teeth of illegal raptor persecution on grouse moors, please consider participating in this quick and easy e-action to send a pre-written letter to your local Parliamentary representative (MSP/MP/MS) urging action. All you need to do is stick in your postcode.

Launched on Saturday by Wild Justice, RSPB and Hen Harrier Action, over 24,000 people have signed up so far, meaning that 24,000 e-letters are winging their way to our parliamentary representatives. Please join in HERE

Thank you

24 thoughts on “43 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018”

  1. As good as the Hen Harrier days are and I have attended all of them and appreciate all the hard work and effort these statistics prove the message is not getting across and nobody is taking a blind bit of notice.
    Sorry, but I think a different approach is needed or else we will still be doing what we are doing at the moment in 10/15 years time.

    1. Brian. Spot on. We must stop preaching to the converted and find ways to get this out to the masses. In the last edition of RSPBs Impact, they did a full page piece on raptor crime, but again, this is preaching to the converted. What they won’t do is a full article in Nature’s Home which is what is needed.
      The movement is undoubtedly growing, but nowhere near fast enough.

    2. Agreed Brian.
      Love hen harrier days to keep us all motivated but they are preaching to the converted.

      I just did a tiny bit of local activism today and wrote “ban driven grouse shooting”in chalk on a paving slab in my city – pretty good foot fall too!

  2. Do you have Douglas Ross & Nicola Sturgeon on your mailing list? Along with Boris Johnson, they need to be updated DAILY with the horrific news! D

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Roseana Cunningham knows about the dead harriers, she would have been briefed about Tom the eagle long before it went public.

    Lets be clear, the wall of silence (apart from Gougeons tiny tweet of disapointment) is completely deliberate. Her advisor has decided to close this issue down because it does not suit their agenda…which is of course “keep it in the long grass”.

    If they talk about the issue, then logic says the only outcome is to implement Werrity, which they do not want to do right now.

    They wanted the same outcome for the mountain hare, but they were forced to engage with the issue and faced between logic and looking stupid, they had to agree to implement the ban (after ensuring that there was still some long grass in the system).

    The Greens clearly pick their battles carefully, however, yesterdays public appology from Nicola is a clear demonstration of just how effective they can be. We really need to move the issue of persecution up their agenda if we want to see some movement in the SNP.

    It’s simple, the argument has been won but they dont want to implement the outcome, we need to force the issue onto their agenda.

  4. Well as grim as this rolling death count is, the positive is thank god for tag technology. Without the tags we would not be able to evidence any of the (best guess 20-30) raptors various species illegally killed daily on grouse moors in england and scotland.

  5. Surely the lost tagged HHs are an indicator only of a proportion of the total number of harriers likely to have been lost – Whatever percentage that 43 is of the total tagged number, it’s fairly safe to say that a similar percentage of untagged harriers (of the untagged total) are likely to have been lost in the same period.

  6. I agree nothing is changing – the recent White-tailed Eagle persecution incident was widely quoted as being the “last straw, line in the sand” etc. It obviously wasn’t, in spite of many thousands of us contacting the Scottish First Minister, there was negligible response. The punters who pay to go shooting driven Red Grouse are the drivers of this persecution, with far fewer of them the industry would not be able to exist.

    What about “exposing” some celebrities, politicians/ministers who get a kick out of driven grouse shooting.
    Maybe a crowdfunder for a few advertising hoardings:-



    With a large picture of XXX preferably in tweeds toting a shotgun.

    I can think of several candidates.

    I would contribute.

  7. God I`m so angry. I`m beyond being rational now. Rational law abiding powerless people with mouth gags and handcuffs trying to protect wildlife from the wealthy Countryside Mafia with all it`s political power and a million foot soldiers carrying out the dirty deeds undercover. It`s a rigged game.

    Every copse and woodland in East Hampshire is full of feed bins and signs saying “STRICKLY PRIVATE”
    “KEEP OUT” . Even the goshawks can read down here `cos they show up then quietly disappear, Every year..

  8. It’s disgusting that the rich landowners of these estates were birds of prey are relentlessly persicuted for pure greed they take miniscule grouse and game birds to eat should get jail sentences and there grounds men it stinks

    1. Unless you can’t be bothered to find out before commenting, I’d suggest that you know full well that the tags don’t “hinder” the birds at all. Furthermore, if the missing birds had died as a result of being tagged, it would have been possible to locate and recover their remains (satellite tags, get it?). As for the recovered carcasses, read the list! But, as previously suggested, I’m sure you know this already.

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