Raptor persecution ignored in North York Moors National Park draft management plan

The North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) is currently consulting on its draft management plan, which aims to set out a series of priority actions to help the Park tackle issues which include ‘recovery from the COVID pandemic, escalating climate and nature emergencies, increasing mental and physical health problems among the general population, and the need to change the way we look after our landscapes‘.

You can download the draft plan here:

I had a quick read through this document at the weekend and was surprised to see how little substance it contained and how vague its stated 22 priority objectives were. For example, whilst there was general commentary around ‘active restoration’ of degraded blanket bog and peat habitats, the only reference I found that might possibly allude to the massive environmental problems caused by intensive driven grouse shooting, which dominates the landscape of this National Park, was this:

Objective 8 – Work with our moorland community to support the sustainable management of moorland to ensure it retains a natural remoteness which supports a greater variety of species and habitats.

I didn’t find one single reference to tackling wildlife crime, and especially raptor persecution, which has long been recognised as an ongoing characteristic of this National Park. For example, just in the last few years alone we’ve seen a shot buzzard (here), a poisoned buzzard (here), deliberate disturbance of a goshawk breeding attempt (here), a satellite-tagged hen harrier vanish in suspicious circumstances (here), another shot buzzard (here), and another shot buzzard (here), a goshawk trapped, reportedly killed and taken away in sack (here), another poisoned buzzard (here), an illegally-set trap (here), and five shot buzzards found stuffed under a rock (here).

Nor did I find any reference to targeting the mass release of non-native gamebirds (pheasants and red-legged partridge) or assessing the damage they cause inside the National Park. It seems the North York Moor National Park Authority could do with taking a look at the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s management plan, which has recently included this issue as one of its priorities (see here).

The North York Moors National Park draft management plan is important, because it aims to set out its vision for how the National Park will be in 20 years time.

According to the NYMNPA website, ‘the draft plan is the result of a series of conversations with stakeholders and partners over the last year. The proposals it contains are not set in stone. Neither we nor our partners possess a monopoly of wisdom. This document invites discussion, input and feedback so that the final plan can properly reflect as wide a range of views as possible. It is an opportunity for everyone to collaborate with us to create a shared plan that will shape the future of the North York Moors National Park‘.

The Park Authority wants your views, whether you live in the Park or you are a visitor. Particularly, it wants to know whether it has ‘missed something that is important to you’:

If you share my concerns about ongoing raptor persecution in this National Park, and the unregulated mass release of non-native species for shooting, I’d encourage you to contact the NYMNPA and ask them to prioritise tackling these issues in the management plan. Contact details are shown in the image above.

Please note, the consultation closes this Friday (21st January 2022).

Thank you.

9 thoughts on “Raptor persecution ignored in North York Moors National Park draft management plan”

  1. It is about time the government stepped up and put in some legislation regarding the bird killers, they have been murdering birds of all types for too long.
    They have proved time and time again they can not be trusted to look after the protected birds, and are more than happy to hide the evidence.
    There have been far too many birds of prey murdered around grouse shooting moors, and the habitat in general has been degraded massively to suit the shooting of grouse, ie very little ground cover, all in the guise of a sport, how shooting a slow moving fat bird that can’t fly far is classed as a sport is beyond me.
    In this modern age of technology why these people still need barbarian pass times is another question, are they living in the stone age where they need to kill to eat?, I think not, as these birds are only shot for bragging rights, so farquar can claim a victory over his chums,
    The birds are then disposed of.
    With modern technology they could satisfy their desire to kill by using virtual technology, and still have bragging rights, and they could still get a certificate, and a trophy, and still go to the local pub to get drunk and then drive home, the only thing that would be different is that birds would be safe from persecution, and or birds of prey would then be able to prosper, and not become another species on the extinction list.
    But because the people who shoot birds are wealthy and have financial influence over politicians, things don’t change and nobody challenges the industry, for fear of loosing cash back handers.
    Any self respecting politician would want to stop this if they had any thoughts for the environment, and the wellbeing of our wildlife, but the biggest problem is conflict of interest, the wealthy landowners are a cash cow for the political parties, and this is seen as more important to them.
    I still believe that if they wish to continue to murder grouse then rules need to be put in place, rule no:1, all landowners, and gamekeepers should be held responsible for any birds of prey killed near or on grouse shooting moors, and shooting licences should be removed for the season if a bird of prey is killed.
    No:2 if a second bird of prey is killed then the licences should be revoked permanently.
    This simple act would make the grouse industry step up and make a difference, they would actively look to protect the birds of prey, and this would be step one in conservation.
    The next rules should include making the moors a protected site, and make them re introduce some shrubs bushes trees, this in turn would help the environment, and protect the Moorland, and peat bogs, but again this would have to be done with help from the environmental management bodies, who can ensure the sustainability of the land.
    If this has a big impact on the grouse shooting fraternity, then so be it, it has to be about the bigger picture, the future of the land regardless of the current custodians, or their wishes.
    I also believe that the royals, ie Charles should also set a president, and stop killing birds on the Royal estates, if he can do it the rest of the bird murderers might follow suit.
    I witnessed just yesterday a farmer, and his wife and 2 children wandering around in a field, he had a 12bore, and one of the kids had a rifle, they just randomly fired at trees, and bushes in all directions, they did not know I was nearby, and at one point they shot and killed a pigeon, it was then picked up by one of the kids, they all inspected it, and then just tossed it aside, and walked on.
    I don’t understand why they did this, and don’t understand what the purpose of this exercise was.
    I can only imagine it was for fun, there was absolutely no need to shoot at the pigeon, nor for them to just randomly shoot into the trees, and bushes..
    Bonkers

    1. But the wildlife killers work for this government’s friends, families and donors, so they are never going to properly legislate to stop this.

  2. I worked in the NYM for 5 years. There are two fundamental problems with National Parks. Firstly, they are landscape designations and secondly they are in no way ‘national’ because their committees are dominated by local people – especially elected councillors.

    There is a yawning cultural gap between landscape and nature conservation. The landscape lobby is posher & linked to the arts sector and the establishment, but woolier in what it stands for than the conservation sector which are outsider ‘objectors’.

    I was always amazed at how the National Park lobby managed to ignore nature conservation even when it was to the advantage of the things they believed in. On the other hand, conservation has an underlying antipathy towards public access and generally only thinks of landscape in terms of habitat.

    Hen harrier used to cruise the moorland margins of FC forests in spring and there were occasional rumours of nesting attempts. I’m not aware of a single successful nest since at least 1980 – is that the case ? Before my time Montagus suceeded at Wheeldale plantation under strict FC protection but as usual with Montagus it was a one off. Goshawk were arriving and we had to protect them – following information that a keeper on a let FC shoot was ‘sitting up for a big Hawk’ my boss wrote to all the shoots saying their lease would be terminated at the slightest hint of persecution. We probably wouldn’t have got away with if challenged – but it did the trick – we knew because the keeper involved threatened to thump the ranger who’d tipped me off !

  3. If I could have just one wish for all National Parks (and one that is competely reasonable and just about possible even in the current political climate) it would to be ban competely all medicated grit and all methods of the dosing of grouse. At a stroke this would knock out the biggest foundation stone of the current intensive and ‘investment-heavy’ business model of DGS. Their sums just wouldn’t add up any more and they would be obliged to adopt a less intensive model or live forever on a financial tightrope.

  4. As a visitor to the Moors I am very concerned to see the lack of natural wildlife caused by continual burning of the moors by grouse owners it both defaces the look and kills many insects reptiles and bird nesting areas
    The continued introduction of non native species which undermines the native species by eating the small insects seeds etc on the lower end of the food chain
    Killing birds of prey with no comeback on gamekeepers or owners of the land and encouraged by the park authorities and police
    You are responsible for a remarkable land area please take it seriously and not just for the few who have pleasure in killing wildlife

  5. As a starting point I would suggest the management plan for all the National Parks should be to support the proposals for legally- binding targets on species abundance for 2030 as proposed in the Environment Bill, with the aim of halting the decline of nature.
    This will probably require a thorough review of land use and land management within the parks, so that proper conservation and scientifically backed principles are paramount, and that any plan doesn’t just favour the conservation of game birds.
    It should also include a diversification of natural habitat, and how the uplands can be managed to help achieve global warming targets, and help halt the extinction crises.
    I would also suggest that any management plan must include the complete elimination of raptor persecution within the National Park, and there should perhaps be a defined “roadmap” of how the park authority intends to achieve this, with defined goals and targets.

    Finally as a vision for the future, since National Parks receive public funding, then in order to align themselves with the notion of “public money for public good”, the parks authorities could perhaps work towards expanding the concept of “right to roam” on public access land to include horse riders and cyclists.
    Alongside this there needs to be a public educational program, so that visitors to the parks understand concepts like the countryside code, the fragility of some the natural habitats, the value of nature, and how a diverse natural environment can help mitigate climate change, and the extinction crises.

    A public which understands and values nature, and feels as though the parks belong to them as part of their national heritage are more likely to accept public money being spent on conserving and enhancing that nature.
    This might also help some landowners reduce the amount of intensively managed land they use for grouse shooting, and set aside some of their land for more natural species abundance??

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