Natural England has been keeping a secret.
A terrible, terrible secret about one of its satellite-tagged hen harriers.
I’ve been waiting all year for Natural England to inform the public about what has happened.
I waited in the spring, but there was no news.
I looked at Natural England’s summer update on its satellite-tagged hen harriers, published in July, but Natural England said nothing was amiss with this bird.
I watched in August as the grouse-shooting industry paraded its hen harrier propaganda throughout the media, claiming that hen harriers were being worshipped by gamekeepers or something equally as implausible. Natural England said nothing to challenge that view, despite knowing the grisly fate of one of its tagged hen harriers.
I read an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago where gamekeepers were being ‘lauded’ as the hen harrier’s ‘friend’ by a straight-faced Natural England employee (Stephen Murphy), who also claimed that hen harrier Bowland Betty, who had been found dead with shotgun injuries on a grouse moor, had been shot away from the grouse moor, not on it – a statement for which he has absolutely no evidence whatsoever!
Now its December and two days ago Natural England published another update about its satellite-tagged hen harriers. Several more have apparently vanished this year, which is no surprise given we know that at least 57 have been killed/vanished in the last three years, but I’ll come back to an analysis of these latest victims in the New Year.
Right now I’m more interested in whether Natural England would say anything about the fate of this particular bird.
Sorry, but I am not prepared to sit and watch this pantomime any longer.
The authorities need to come clean and admit what has happened here. Cover-ups don’t instil confidence and besides the public has a right to know what is happening to these hen harriers, and especially to those that are fitted with public-funded tags.
Over to you, Natural England, and you might want to include a statement about whether you believe this harrier’s wings were pulled off, perhaps when she was still alive, based on the evidence you have.
UPDATE 29th December 2021: Natural England refuses to comment on whether hen harrier had its wings ripped off in horrific persecution incident (here).
UPDATE 7th March 2022: Natural England still silent, apparently on police orders, about hen harrier whose wings were torn off (here)
UPDATE 25th August 2022: Hen harrier’s ‘wings removed’ & its satellite tag fitted to a crow in sick ploy to disguise the crime (here)