60 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018, most of them on or close to UK grouse moors

For anyone who still wants to pretend that the grouse shooting industry isn’t responsible for the systematic extermination of hen harriers on grouse moors across the UK, here’s the latest catalogue of crime that suggests otherwise.

[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]

This is the blog I now publish after every reported killing or suspicious disappearance.

They disappear in the same way political dissidents in authoritarian dictatorships have disappeared” (Stephen Barlow, 22 January 2021).

Today the list has been updated to include the most recently reported victims, three young hen harriers whose satellite tags inexplicably stopped transmitting and whose corpses vanished in to thin air in July, August and September 2021 (see here).

The disgraceful national catalogue of illegally killed and ‘missing’ hen harriers will continue to grow – I know of at least one more on-going police investigation which has yet to be publicised.

I’ve been compiling this list only since 2018 because that 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).

2018 was also the year that Natural England issued itself with a licence to begin a hen harrier brood meddling trial on grouse moors in northern England. For new blog readers, hen harrier brood meddling is a conservation sham sanctioned by DEFRA as part of its ludicrous ‘Hen Harrier Action Plan‘ and carried out by Natural England (NE), in cahoots with the very industry responsible for the species’ catastrophic decline in England. For more background see here.

Brood meddling has been described as a sort of ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by commentator Stephen Welch:

I don’t get it, I thought the idea of that scheme was some kind of trade off – a gentleman’s agreement that the birds would be left in peace if they were moved from grouse moors at a certain density. It seems that one party is not keeping their side of the bargain“.

With at least 60 hen harriers gone since 2018, I think it’s fair to say that the grouse shooting industry is simply taking the piss. Meanwhile, Natural England pretends that ‘partnership working’ is the way to go.

‘Partnership working’ appears to include authorising the removal of hen harrier chicks from a grouse moor already under investigation by the police for suspected raptor persecution (here) and accepting a £10K bung from representatives of the grouse shooting industry that prevents Natural England from criticising them or the sham brood meddling trial (see here).

[Cartoon by Gill Lewis]

So here’s the latest gruesome list. Note that the majority of these birds (but not all) were fitted with satellite tags. How many more [untagged] harriers have been killed?

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)

24 September 2019: Hen harrier Bronwyn ‘disappeared’ near a grouse moor in North Wales (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)

23 March 2020: Hen harrier Rosie ‘disappeared’ at an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (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)

19 May 2020: Hen harrier Fingal ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Lowther Hills, Scotland (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)

day/month unknown: Unnamed male hen harrier breeding on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria ‘disappeared’ while away hunting (here)

9 July 2020: Unnamed female hen harrier (#201118) ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed site in Northumberland (here).

25 July 2020: Hen harrier Harriet ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here)

14 August 2020: Hen harrier Solo ‘disappeared’ in confidential nest area in Lancashire (here)

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

16 September 2020: Hen harrier Fortune ‘disappeared’ from an undisclosed roost site in Northumberland (here)

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

20 September 2020: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2020, #55152) ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire (here)

24 February 2021: Hen harrier Tarras ‘disappeared’ next to a grouse moor in Northumberland (here)

12th April 2021: Hen harrier Yarrow ‘disappeared’ near Stockton, County Durham (here)

18 May 2021: Adult male hen harrier ‘disappeared’ from its breeding attempt on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria whilst away hunting (here)

18 May 2021: Another adult male hen harrier ‘disappeared’ from its breeding attempt on RSPB Geltsdale Reserve, Cumbria whilst away hunting (here)

24 July 2021: Hen harrier Asta ‘disappeared’ at a ‘confidential site’ in the North Pennines (here)

14th August 2021: Hen harrier Josephine ‘disappeared’ at a ‘confidential site’ in Northumberland (here)

17 September 2021: Hen harrier Reiver ‘disappeared’ in a grouse moor dominated region of Northumberland (here)

24 September 2021: Hen harrier (Brood meddled in 2021, R2-F-1-21) ‘disappeared’ in Northumberland (here)

To be continued……..

27 thoughts on “60 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018, most of them on or close to UK grouse moors”

  1. It makes appalling reading. I just don’t know what to say. The list is growing year on year. I recently spoke with a local person who goes shooting about muirburn and he glossed over all of what I had to say and sent me an article about the Mars Bar test instead!! I’d never heard of it. Its a mindset. They just like killing(for sport!!!!) and its frightening

      1. A depressing article to start to the new year and no mistake. Lets hope this new year may bring bring us some better news about conservation issues of all kinds. It’s still a long road ahead though and a certain reappointment doesn’t raise my spirits much – however we have several untainted organisations to keep our chins up and to shine the spotlight on the nefarious doings of wildlife criminals.

  2. I lay the blame for this firmly at the door of some of Britains Richest and most Powerful Families — and see the Windsor Family sitting at it’s core.
    Employees do as they are bid .. and aspiring psychophants who follow their lead beleive that a predator free shooting moor will gain their approval.
    The buck stops at the top.

    1. “The buck stops at the top”

      And it starts at the bottom. There are no innocents in this evil activity. ‘Only following orders’ is not an excuse.

  3. Get people involved who know about moorland management and how the keepers work instead of collage graduates who haven’t a clue what to look for. Also stop putting tracking info on the internet. Keepers now have thermal imaging gear, the kites & buzzards where i live get a right hammering also im in the area where 2/3 harriers have gone missing.

    1. I’ve just been watching some videos where a drone with a thermal imaging camera was put up at night to locate warm bodied animals under a thick woodland canopy, incredible stuff and what a boon to conservation. The terrible downside is that in the wrong hands it could be utterly devastating, and if thermal imaging equipment is expensive who is more likely to be able to afford it students, local conservation groups or the estates? How can we counter this?

  4. A brilliant first publication for 2022. The ‘gruesome list’ is monumental, and shows an obvious determination to continue the brilliance of RPUK where it left off in 2021.

    Congratulations, well done, be proud of yourself, and A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  5. Last week I found a dead buzzard on [Ed: rest of comment deleted as contains sensitive info].

    Andrew, thanks for your message. Please pass on the info to the RSPB Investigations Team:

    Email: crime@rspb.org.uk
    Confidential raptor crime hotline: 0300 999 0101

  6. No surprise to the depths of their depravity those that murder for sport. A true evil from soulless individuals who enjoy suffering, death and destruction to the innocents of nature. Weep for humanity where there is none….

    1. In the past couple of days I’ve read of how a lynx reintroduction project in France has been seriously impacted by hunters deciding that they don’t want the possibility of losing the chance to shoot an extra deer or two for fun, so they’ve been illegally killing the lynx. That was quickly followed by my reading up about hunters in North Carolina openly admitting they’d kill any red wolves (Canis rufus) they’d come across. This is in spite of A) that being illegal and B) it being one of the world’s most endangered mammals. The reintroduction of red wolves in that state – the only place in the world they are currently found in the wild – has not surprisingly faltered.

      If you want to see what the general mindset of the hunting community is like rather than swallow crap from organisations like the GWCT then the best way I can think of doing that is by forcing yourself to watch a couple of hours of the abysmal Fieldsports Channel. It’s by shooters for shooters and it shows. There are exceptions and there is a sliding scale of awfulness, but the jaw dropping idiocy on display is terrifying/depressing/frustrating and is something the entire British public really need to see. Having to shoot is a different beast from wanting to shoot and I really think the latter should disqualify anyone from having guns.

  7. So sad this is going on. Please keep reporting this to the people who care for are wild life and hopefully we can get these horrible people prosecuted
    Thank you.

  8. I can’t believe that the rich are still allowed to murder hen harriers, and other birds of prey on grouse shooting moored, and near by, it is absolutely disgusting, and as for N. E, what a joke, the only thing they are doing is covering up the truth, and being paid to do so by the very people who are committing the crimes.
    It’s time the government stepped up and put an end to this barbarian sport.
    As for grouse shooting, how is it considered a sport?, to use a scatter gun, which fires a load of shot, in a spray pattern to hit a slow moving fat bird that can’t fly far, how is that considered a sport, they might as well use double decker busses as targets, hard to miss…
    If these barbaric oiks still feel the need to shoot at something they should try and shoot clay pigeons.
    But saying that they will probably shoot any bird that happens to fly within a mile.
    All landowners, and gamekeepers should be held responsible for any bird of prey killed near or on a grouse Moor, and if more than one bird of prey is killed in a single year the shoot should be shut down, and all money raised from the fines should be put to conservation of the very birds they are killing.. As for brood meddling, well that should also be made illegal, after all, birds of prey are protected, or supposedly any way.

  9. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that according to the British Trust for Ornithology there are an estimated 545 breeding pairs of Hen Harriers in the UK(2015) (the RSPB estimate about 617 breeding pairs) which is a minutely small number, when you consider the geographical size of the UK.
    Most people have probably never even seen a Hen harrier, or ever will!

    The bird is listed as Red regarding its conservation status. According to the BTO this is because of both historical and recent population declines.
    It is well argued that one of the biggest causes of the population declines is illegal persecution by criminals.
    The evidence suggests this persecution appears to be linked to game bird shooting and in particular driven grouse shooting on the very moors where the Hen Harrier should have available habitat in which to successfully breed and thrive.
    What makes this situation even more unpalatable is that many of these upland moors are in receipt of public money through countryside stewardship schemes, and other funding schemes for supposedly conservation work.
    In reality it would appear that this public funded conservation work is often more benefitting to grouse numbers, so that shooting estates can offer an increasing bag size to the wealthy cliental who enjoy shooting wildlife.
    (all of this has been said so many times before- but there may be new people reading this blog?)

    Throw into this mix, Natural England, and the Hen Harrier brood management program. Another public funded scheme, which allows Hen Harrier chicks to be removed from grouse moors. The very natural habitat where existing legislation should be being enforced to ensure the birds safety and welfare.

    We then have a police service who frequently have to investigate wildlife crimes with one hand tied behind their backs; and a legal system which due to the often complete lack of evidence due to the nature and remoteness of most wildlife crimes, ensures that the perpetrators are never, or very infrequently brought to justice.

    It’s nothing short of a scandal.

    Politicians failing to act to improve legislation and investigative powers for the police and other public bodies to properly investigate the wildlife crimes which are taking place, and ensure those responsible, regardless of their position in society are held accountable and brought to justice.

    A failure to recognise that existing wildlife protection legislation is no longer adequate- State of Nature report clearly indicates the depleted state of nature in the UK, and that current legislation to protect nature is failing.

    A government department (NE) brazenly manipulating the law (Countryside and Wildlife Act) through a licensing scheme which allows Hen Harrier nests to be disturbed and chicks removed, and then reared in captivity before being released far away from the grouse moors where the chicks were born.

    (I would be very interested to learn if there has ever been detailed studies of the interactions which take place, between adult Hen Harriers, and their offspring which may assist in our understanding of how Hen Harriers develop the skills to survive as they grow up into adulthood. The fact is humans are often very ignorant when it comes to the complex interactions which take place in nature, we often don’t even recognise what is actually taking place because we try and relate what we observe to a human form of behaviour- something that the current climate emergency and extinction crisis are only now making us very aware of.
    It’s actually only recently that parliament has accepted that animals could actually be sentient beings!! Something which I would have thought would have been fairly obvious to anyone who has spent a lot time working with animals or a pet dog!!)

    It should also have been obvious to anyone with an ounce of wit, that the Hen Harrier brood management scheme would be a failure, as it doesn’t tackle one the root causes of the declining Hen Harrier population- which is the illegal persecution.
    So it is no surprise that once the brood managed chicks are released they eventually fly back to very grouse moors where they were born, moors which should offer them a safe natural habitat, but often don’t. Mysteriously the birds then disappear or become victims to criminal persecution.

    If Hen Harriers were endangered Tigers, Snow Leopards or Elephants – our national media would be all over this. There would be public outcry and politicians would be forced to act.
    Instead its conveniently kept a secret- swept under the carpet- and the press are fed pathetic little stories about the marvellous success of brood management, because 24 breeding attempts in 2021 were successful (source NE)
    Twenty four !!!!!!!

    Apparently across all those square miles of grouse moor there were also 4 nests registered for diversionary feeding in the hope that keepers would protect the nesting birds, as the Harriers weren’t feeding on grouse chicks.
    Four !!! (source NE)
    This diversionary feeding itself has to be an admittance that nests and Hen Harriers must be subject to persecution due to the Harriers predation of grouse chicks??

    One of the big questions in all this is:- “why is this state of affairs being allowed to continue?”

    I would suggest part of the answer must lie in our political system.
    A system which is open to pressure and corruption from the powerful and wealthy vested interests which remain in the shadows.
    Politicians, many whose only really interest is themselves, and ensuring their well paid career as a parliamentarian is a long one, and isn’t upset by stepping on powerful toes!
    Politicians who can ensure that the “right” people are appointed to government bodies so that a course of action which doesn’t challenge vested interests is never taken. (some of you might want to relate this to a recent announcement?)
    It’s a disgrace, and I frequently ask myself if the way the our politicians and society work is really any different to the more blatantly corrupt ones, where everything is more out in the open, rather than hidden away or legislated to make the distasteful perfectly legal? Is there just a sophistication in our legislation and societies set up to ensure the wealthy ruling elite along with their vested interests remain in power?

    In the meantime Hen Harriers will continue to be persecuted, along with so much many other birds of prey and wildlife.
    Thank goodness for “freedom of speech” and people like Ruth who aren’t afraid to tell it as it is!!
    Sadly I strongly suspect Ruth will be updating this page in the not too distant future, with more missing or killed Hen Harriers.
    ..and those who are able to stop this atrocity will have done nothing , or at the very best performed another “slight of hand magic show” to confuse the public into thinking they are tackling the issue!!!

    I know all this has been said before …..but if we keep on saying it….do you think one day someone will actually listen and do something???

    1. “A government department (NE) brazenly manipulating the law…”

      A point of correction, here. “A government department (NE)” is exactly what it is not. Natural England is an executive non-departmental public body, but it is sponsored by a Department (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

      It is accountable to Defra’s Secretary of State, and it is England’s statutory consultant and regulator on a HUGE raft of legal processes from planning to every kind of environmental assessment…

      “I would suggest part of the answer must lie in our political system.”

      Indeed. The ‘independence’ of Natural England was fundamentally undermined by a Labour Government, which forced it to consider economic growth when laying out environmental policy (the ‘Hampton Principles’) and then ‘brought-to-heel’ by the Lib Dems and Tories during extreme funding cuts following the economic crash of 2008.

      It is currently led by an ex-Green Party Parliamentary candidate.

      So… which political party is prepared to place the environment above economic growth? The sort of growth which has led to the climate crisis (and the very probable demise of ‘modern society as we know it’?)

    1. Interesting change.
      I wonder if we can now sue estates for the damage that stray livestock cause to cars? Will they now be held responsible for the crashes that result in death?
      Will release pens now be moved well away from public roads?

      1. My thought exactly, Circus.

        Furthermore: If released birds are now classed as livestock, then their slaughter should surely comply with the law (though no doubt a suitable loophole exists, or has been created to enable circumvention).

  10. What would be a good start to 2022 would be a short video in which Tony Juniper acknowledges that there is a problem involving the persecution of Hen Harriers and following this up with a statement of intent to get to grips with it.

    Brood-meddling is not tackling the persecution issue and neither is a reintroduction scheme in the south of England. At best (or maybe I should say worst) all it’s doing is moving the problem around under the pretence that it is spreading the load of potential Hen Harrier predation on grouse chicks.

    In 2002 English Nature produced a 12 page leaflet entitled ‘The hen harrier in England’. It was very informative and described the optimism in the 1970s and 1980s that the species was on its way to recovery, hopes which were dashed from the mid-1990s when there was, to quote, ‘a significant decline in the bird’s fortunes’. We need an update of this leaflet. Copies should be made widely available to seek to overcome the general ignorance of and about the species and, in particular, to address what is being done to them. The EN leaflet can be accessed by doing a Google search based on the ISBN reference – ISBN 1 85716 622 1

    1. Hi WTF. Yes but I wouldn’t trust this lot of lying bastards to write an honest account of it. As in all markets it was just a story of supply and demand anyway. A very simple story really. ‘Supply’ – hitting on the best way of using medicated grit was the number one thing – this took the extreme risk out of the running a grouse moor, therefore without the severe crashes they gained the confidence to invest in doubling or tripling the number of keepers, buying out grazing rights, building roads, etc, etc. ‘Demand’- the City started to boom again and every pinstriped spiv with spare cash who read “The Big Shots” by Jonathan Ruffer had a hard-on to pretend he was an Edwardian toff out on the moors. And that is it, the story told. Hen Harriers and all the rest were just annoying little pests to be swept away by Owners and especially the well known Agents who scoured the land for any and every run-down grouse moors they could find to invest in to turn a profit on.

  11. I have just come across this blog today. I have always loved Hen Harriers ever since when I was in the Cairngorms on holiday I came across a skydance being performed by two birds. I have to say I must have watched them for a couple of hours on this beautiful sunny day, even now its one of my favourite memories. Being a member of the RSPB I have followed the various groups who have been fighting back against the illegal persecution of this species of bird. But like everyone on here, I feel like our hands are tied behind our backs as we try and stop this. Are people ever brought to justice for these shootings? It’s all very frustrating but for the sake of the Hen Harrier we have to continue the fight to protect them. Thanks for this blog and for caring.

  12. There is something else which I think needs to be asked: why doesn’t the BBC Natural History Unit never cover the issue of the ruination of our uplands? Considering how much broadcast time is spent on the environment by the BBC, why is this BIG subject never broached in their ‘wildlife’ programmes?

    I think the BBC is part of the problem: minimal coverage of lead in game meat, artificial draining of wetlands, burning of the flora and fauna, atmospheric pollution, water pollution, flooding, snaring of mammals, traps in general, stink pits, prophylactic use of medicated grit, bird flu, monoculture pests and diseases, planting of invasive species, raptor persecution… and intimidation.

    Who stops the BBC from covering these issues in its 65 years of UK wildlife broadcasting?

    1. Good question. How do BBC wildlife programmes get commissioned? The name of Stephen Moss springs to mind as a suitable producer, though it is 10 years or so since he was employed by the BBC. Channel 4 has had some recent effective dips into this arena and might be a suitable base for something more comprehensive – ideally led by Alex Thomson, whose no-nonsense approach to contentious issues is just what is needed here.

    2. Spot on! It would just need purely objective, balanced programming to absolutely demolish the non existent case for grouse moors. Even a scruffy council estate oik like yours truly can go on the facebook page of a Moorland Forum and ask a question like ‘Doesn’t the Leeds University EMBER report show muirburn is particularly bad for most aquatic life and especially for salmonid fish?’ or ‘Wouldn’t targeted tree planting along with the return of beaver create brilliant fire breaks AND reduce flooding AND the effects of drought downstream?’ and you will never, ever receive a reply and there’s a good chance your comments will ‘disappear’. It’s a national scandal that there’s virtually nothing in the media about the contribution our knackered uplands make to the astronomical financial and human cost of flooding, and nothing is more ludicrous and contemptible than some of that is down to shooting birds for fun being considered more important than keeping homes dry.

      There’s a long list of questions like that they just can’t afford to answer honestly that unfortunately aren’t being asked beyond some limited efforts on social media…….if you’re lucky. Having real National Parks that even other densely populated countries like Hungary already do wouldn’t just be a massive gain for conservation it would be a wonderful one in giving this country some ‘soul’ compared to the backdrop that is the glorified wasteland of too much of our uplands – an infinite drearyness they can only succeed in selling us as beautiful if they can maintain tremendous public ignorance. Wittingly or unwittingly the media are compliant with this and it’s holding back extremely positive, progressive changes that could be made bringing back wildlife, cutting floods and enabling a far greener and stronger rural economy. As a society we desperately need to be looking forward with SOMETHING, currently we are in a crap impasse, stagnating.

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