On 17th December 2021, I blogged about how Natural England (NE) had been keeping a terrible, terrible secret about the gruesome fate of one of its satellite-tagged hen harriers earlier this year (see here), preferring instead to sit back and watch its so-called ‘partners’ in the grouse-shooting industry claim false credit for ‘protecting’ this species.
I guess that’s what happens when NE accepts a £10K bung from grouse-shooting industry reps on condition that NE doesn’t publicly criticise them (see here). So much for NE being an independent regulator, eh?
In that pre-Xmas blog I asked NE to make a statement about this particular crime and I suggested they may like to include a comment about whether they thought the hen harrier’s wings had been ripped off while she was still alive, based on the evidence in NE’s possession.
You’ll note I was careful not to reveal any information in that blog that could potentially affect a police investigation, i.e. tag number, bird’s name, location of incident, habitat type, etc.
Natural England didn’t respond directly on the blog but instead published a comment on Twitter on 20th December in response to Chris Packham’s request for information:
This is a complete cop-out by Natural England.
Yes, there is indeed an on-going police investigation but it’s going nowhere, just like the other 57 police investigations into the illegal killing of hen harriers in the last three years (see here).
This particular investigation began over 9 months ago. Nobody has been interviewed, let alone arrested or charged, and the likelihood of a prosecution is precisely zero. That’s not necessarily the result of police ineptitude; as regular blog readers will be all too painfully aware, these crimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute given the remoteness of the location and the lack of witnesses, although in this case the police do have some explaining to do – details on that will be forthcoming in due course.
Saying nothing by hiding behind the excuse of a live police investigation is simply a convenient cover for Natural England not to have to admit that its hen harrier brood meddling trial is a conservation sham because hen harriers are still being brutalised by the industry with which NE has jumped in to bed.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why NE cannot make a statement about this latest horrific crime – it can easily be done without compromising the police investigation.
Instead, we got this from NE Chairman Tony Juniper on Xmas Eve:
I intend to write more about this latest persecution crime in the near future.
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)