Police appeal for information following disappearance of two male hen harriers

Press statement from Cumbria Police (18 May 2021)

Police appeal for information following disappearance of two male hen harriers

Cumbria Police are appealing for information following the disappearance of two male Hen Harriers, in suspicious circumstances from the RSPB reserve at Geltsdale. 

[A male hen harrier. Photo by Graham Catley]

PC Samantha O’Key the forces Wildlife, Rural and Environmental Crime Co-ordinator said,

The two male birds were servicing nests, and as a result both nests have now failed

In 2020 another male bird went missing in suspicious circumstances. The male was servicing two nests and as a result both nests failed. These birds were in good health, in a perfect environment for them to thrive, with plenty of food.  It is highly unlikely that the Harriers have died of natural causes.

Hen Harriers are a Schedule 1 protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and are one of the UK’s most persecuted bird of prey. Cumbria Police will continue to work in partnership with the RSPB and other agencies to protect our wild birds.

We would ask that anyone with any information contact Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.” 

Warden at RSPB Geltsdale, Steve Garnett:

This is devastating news, for hen harriers, for our hard-working team here at RSPB Geltsdale and for everyone who is rooting for a better outcome for these birds.

Each season, the joy of seeing these birds return to breed is always tinged with worry over what might happen to them while they’re hunting beyond the safety of our reserve.  

We can make sure they are safe when they are on our land, but of course, they are free to range more widely and we know that not everyone has the best interests of these birds in mind.  Hen harriers are illegally killed every year, so we are bound to view these disappearances as suspicious.  

Anyone with information can contact the RSPB in confidence on our raptor persecution hotline (0300 999 0101) and we will support the police in any way we can.”


UPDATE 19th May 2021: 56 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018 (here)

14 thoughts on “Police appeal for information following disappearance of two male hen harriers”

  1. This will of course be put down by some as a sign that the RSPB can’t look after hen harriers and that grouse moors are in fact better for them. I really, really hope that the RSPB makes a huge deal about the fact male hen harriers are far more likely to fly past reserve boundaries onto land where they might not be welcome. There’s a long history of this at Geltsdale and other very dodgy going ons and hopefully the RSPB will collate them all for public consumption.

    1. Quite so Les. RSPB needs to make a long feature about this in the next magazine. It’s way past time they stopped pussyfooting around to save upsetting members. Members need to know and know now what is going on.
      It is we that are paying for the reserve after all.

      1. It needs to be in more than the magazine, it needs to be a big publicity push. This and other very nasty goings on have been happening at Geltsdale and over its boundary with a particular grouse moor estate. This is well known but two things you can guarantee is that nobody in the shooting cabal or their apologist organisations will stand up and publicly condemn this and at the end of the season when the numbers of nests are announced the shooting cabal will claim that DGS moors are better for Harriers than RSPB reserves, bluntly a lie that they all know the root of and snigger all the way to the grouse butts—— irredeemable Rsoles.
        If they don’t condemn individual persecution events such as this they are complicit and their claims of being anti persecution are just so much guff..

        1. Names of these Canals are? Mr R Soles real name is??
          Just as I thought! Another shot stirring gobsh2te who has nothing to say but loves the sound of hi/her own diatribe

            1. Gibberish is alive and well it seems although I have no idea what it means or who it is aimed at.

      2. Agreed. The RSPB has a huge membership that it needs to use as a resource in this and other battles. They should make an appeal to all of the membership to forsake the visitor centres & visit a raptor killing hotspot at least once a month, preferably either at first light or last light but anything is better than nothing, and do some responsible birding there for a few hours. Do it in friendship groups or whatever suits people (I know it can be intimidating to be alone on a grouse moor & have gun-toting masked keepers zooming past on quads scowling at you), and of course behave impeccably. Collectively, birds will be saved & “the rotten apples” in far flung places will lose some of their certainty that they wont get caught. I know there are lots of people doing this, but relative to the total number of RSPB members, not all that many.

  2. This was on the Border News on ITV last night. They had a feature on it which gave the history of persecution of Hen Harriers on this reserve and in the area generally. It might bring some assistance in getting a name or two as to who is behind this.

    1. I suspect that locally potential culprits are well known but getting proof is a very different matter unfortunately unless somebody on “the inside ” talks and that won’t happen.

    1. indeed breath taking shite. So two male Hen Harriers on a whim piss off and leave their incubating or brooding females to fail in a breeding attempt. Yet another example of wilful blindness by the MA’s spokeswoman and of course demonstrating two things. Either a complete failure to understand bird breeding biology or a blatant lie and that their zero tolerance when it comes down to it is the complete and utter sham we thought it was. Moron Association credibility minus infinity!

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