Why is Natural England sitting on post mortem results of 2 x brood meddled hen harriers?

On 28th October 2021, the corpses of two brood meddled hen harriers (hatched 2021) were found by Natural England staff, collected and submitted for post-mortems.

These are the two individuals:

Brood meddled male Hen Harrier R2-M2-21, tagged on 20th July 2021 from nest site ‘BM R2 Cumbria’. The date of last contact is given in NE’s data table as 27th October 2021 and the location is given as ‘Cumbria, site confidential, hen harrier roost site’. The notes section says, ‘Recovered dead 28th October 2021, awaiting PM results’.

Brood meddled male Hen Harrier R2-M3-21, tagged on 20th July 2021 from nest site ‘BM R2 Cumbria’. The date of last contact is given as 27th October 2021 and the location is given as ‘County Durham’. The notes section says, ‘Recovered dead 28th October 2021, awaiting PM results’.

We know about these two harriers because Natural England included a small paragraph about their deaths in a blog published on 15th December 2021. At the time, I commented how strange it was that the post-mortem results apparently weren’t available, even though the corpses had been collected some seven weeks earlier (see here).

So I submitted an FoI request to Natural England on 27 January 2022 and asked for the post-mortem results of those two young harriers.

[A young hen harrier. Photographer unknown]

The response was due tomorrow. However, today Natural England has sent me this:

It wasn’t a complex request at all. It was a simple, straightforward request. According to the pathologist’s report, how did these two young hen harriers die?

Now, why would Natural England want to delay the publication of these results?

And while we’re at it, Natural England, are you going to say anything about the dead hen harrier whose wings were undoubtedly pulled off, perhaps when the bird was still alive (see here and here)? Two months ago you said you couldn’t comment further as a police investigation was underway. How’s that going? It seems to have been underway for almost a year – it’s going nowhere, isn’t it? Nobody will be brought to justice, will they? Just like nobody has been brought to justice for the other 59 hen harriers that have been killed since 2018 (here).

UPDATE 7th March 2022: Natural England publishes post-mortem summaries of two brood meddled hen harriers (here)

16 thoughts on “Why is Natural England sitting on post mortem results of 2 x brood meddled hen harriers?”

  1. Hi, typical response from NE, I have had several FOI request in with them and ALWAYS get the same response, it is complex and they delay. I currently am awaiting a delayed response to a complex question, namely what was the last known location of the 3 sat tagged brood meddled harriers released on the Bolton Abbey estate at Barden, and are they still alive. Complex my arse !

      1. Taken from Swindon estate and released after being ‘meddled’ on Barden Moor, part of the Bolton Abbey estate

        1. Thanks Stuart, I knew they came off Swinton, thanks again for confirming they went to BA not CB where the first brood taken went. Both of these estates are rarities in the Dales being largely good guys.

  2. And they call it a democracy !
    How can it be when certain people are allowed to break numerous laws and yet the government does nothing.

  3. This is truly getting out of hand. The more you dig the more they attempt to bury it might seem to many. Given the tactics it appears to me that they might be hoping that other events overtake them

  4. It certainly makes you wonder who is pulling the strings further up the chain of command and issuing the orders. It smacks of a major cover up to protect the “landed gentry” and their employees, as for Natural England they are and have been an utter travesty right from it’s conception.

  5. I despair at how this country is run. We are led to believe it’s a democracy but it’s far from it.
    The French had theirs in 1789. The Russians had theirs in 1917.
    Maybe it’s time for ours!

  6. Whilst I am not going to speculate on either the cause of death of these 2 Hen Harriers, or why Natural England have not yet published the findings of the post mortems.

    I would like to say “thank you” to Ruth for progressing this matter with Natural England.

    For without that attention to detail and dogged determination to uncover the truth, it would be all too easy for bodies such as Natural England to hide what is going on in the countryside, and to continue promoting the long worn out mantra of “working with partners to tackle raptor persecution”.

    Because of the work of Ruth, and others who have, and continue to expose the sheer scale of raptor persecution across the UK, I think it is fair to say that some of Natural England’s partners have no interest whatsoever in tackling raptor persecution, and their interests really lie in hiding the persecution which is taking place.

    This therefore has the potential to put Natural England in a position where the truth becomes very uncomfortable; and I would suggest withholding information from public scrutiny becomes a strategy to manage the failures, and ensure they can continue working with partners they could in fact well do without, but which are the result of political interference.

    So, a big thank you to Ruth and all the others who work so tirelessly on this issue.

    1. Well said John L. You would have thought that, by now, NE would have recognised that Ruth is never going to give up and that they would be as well dealing promptly with matters she has raised. However, I do wonder to what extent responding to non-essential FOIs might delay responses to meatier items.

  7. I agree with John, ours is long overdue. When you consider how the likes of Boris Johnson have broken the Covid regulations repeatedly (allegedly!!) and he has so far escaped any legal action. My guess is that he won’t be brought to account for his actions just like his sick and twisted toff cronies who kill animals and engage in cruelty. It remains one law for them and another for the rest of us.

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