44 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018

Last month we blogged that at least 43 hen harriers were ‘missing’ in suspicious circumstances or had been confirmed killed since 2018 (see here).

Today the list is updated to 44 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.

[This male hen harrier died in 2019 after his leg was almost severed in an illegally set trap that had been placed next to his nest on a Scottish grouse moor (see here). Photo by Ruth Tingay]

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 2020 when we learned that all five of last year’s brood meddled hen harrier chicks were ‘missing’, presumed dead (see here). It has since been updated a few times as we learned about more satellite-tagged hen harriers that had vanished during lockdown in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Cairnorms National Park (here) and on a notorious grouse moor in South Lanarkshire (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 ‘Dryad’ who vanished from a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in September 2020 (see here).

That brings the gruesome tally to 44 hen harriers. (We’re still waiting to hear whether three hen harriers, satellite-tagged by Natural England this year and have since vanished (here), are being treated as suspicious disappearances by the police and if so, they will be added to this list).

Four Four.

Forty four.

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 44:

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)

7 September 2020: Hen harrier Dryad ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

To be continued……..

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

15 thoughts on “44 hen harriers ‘missing’ or confirmed killed since 2018”

  1. These missing or killed birds are the true story of the plight of the Hen Harrier.

    These figures cast doubt on the way the governments in England and Scotland, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage and those involved in the Brood Management process are actually conducting themselves in trying to recover Hen Harrier numbers.

    There simply isn’t enough focus on dealing with the criminality which is taking place.

    The problem analysis triangle (PAT) used in dealing with criminal acts, works by considering the 3 sides of the triangle:
    the victim (Hen Harrier)
    the location (Hen Harrier habitat)
    the offender (those persecuting Hen Harriers)

    It is clear that there is attention being given to the victim through schemes like Brood Management, and to the location through habitat designations like SSSI, or AONB.

    What is missing is proper focus on the offender.

    Until there is proper recognition of the criminality which is taking place, and meaningful measure put in place to eradicate this, no amount of effort on the victim and location sides of the triangle will produce the desired results.

    This issue has been going for so long now, that it can only be concluded, that it would appear, that this “criminality” is too well protected.

  2. I sometimes wonder if it’s not just for the supposed protection of the grouse but …defiance really. They’ll go on killing raptors just to demonstrate they can and who’s in charge.

    1. Yeah I’m pretty convinced there’s a malicious edge to it too, the idea they’re stitching it to those ‘snooty’ birders and raptor workers when they shoot and trap birds of prey will give them a buzz. A little bustard and a red footed falcon that were delighting birdwatchers were found shot, difficult to believe they weren’t specifically targeted for that reason. Some people like the idea of conflict and aggro to brighten their dull little lives and I suspect a lot of them go shooting. The comments on social media are a bit of a give away as to what these people are really like which certainly isn’t the kindly, nature loving keeper their representative organisations try to sell us.

    2. Yes David, you are on the money with that assessment.
      It is part of an endemic arrogance that pervades that group of people. Everything, including obeying the law, is secondary to what they want.

  3. This is absolutely heart breaking and it makes me so, so angry.

    Thank you for keeping this log to make sure the facts stay VISIBLE!

  4. Agreed. But don’t forget bragging rights, banter and a love of out-doing one another among underkeepers of neighbouring Estates is a big thing. It also builds reputations, personal ego and creates folklore among their narrow minded peer groups. By making a name for yourseld it fast-tracks the young ambitous keepers up the pecking order into Headkeeper positions on bigger more prestigous Estates.

  5. These people need to be held to account for their crimes and the government need to act now not by taking by action everyone
    cases pussyfoots around while this perscution happens almost daily with no prosecution everyone knows this is being done to protect the grouse and kill the Raptors if every there was a time it is now take action stop the mudering bastards now

  6. It’s not just Hen Harriers I spoke to a member of the BTO that was watching Merlins and saw a gamekeeper throwing what he is adament was a Male Merlin into the boot of his car they are taking everything out.

  7. Im a shooter and i tell you this sickens me to the core. I love raptors with a passion. If i witnessed any of thease horrible killings , I would shove the bird down the killers throat until it choked them and would happily go and do the time for it. It makes me so angry to read this report . I cant even tell my ten year old daughter what is happening because she gets so angry she wants to walk the moors and try and catch somebody shooting a raptor so her dad can shove it down their neck. God help them if i ever do witness it. They would have to shoot me dead to stop me burying them in a shallow peat grave. 44 dead harriers . That is utterly disgusting . Some of the estates shoot a 1000 brace of grouse in a day and they kill raptors for maybe taking two or three a week. Absolute disgrace . Id say ban it but still think they would shoot raptors just to get at the folk that love them. They may have money but to me the people that shoot the raptors are the scum of the earth.

  8. Birds killed illegally – birds in decline – this is a subject dear to my heart, but I am also aware that the comments in the article on Raptor Persecution demonise the people who shoot these birds illegally. We have enough chasms between people on opposite sides of almost every debate and political and social point of view. But how to mobilise public opinion?

    1. It’s not a debate, David; any arguments were settled years ago. It is an ongoing struggle for those who value our natural heritage, have respect and compassion for other species, and who wish the law of the land to be enforced. Against a bunch of criminal deviants who have zero consideration for anything other than themselves, who lie, fiddle and threaten at every opportunity in order to preserve their worthless hobby. It’s simply another facet of good versus evil. Make no mistake, good will win.

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