Another satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ in Peak District National Park

Here we go again.

YET ANOTHER satellite-tagged hen harrier has ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, this time in the Peak District National Park.

The unnamed harrier hatched in 2021 and was being tracked by the RSPB. It was reported missing on 10th February 2022.

[Hen harrier, photo by Pete Blanchard]

South Yorkshire Police have issued the following appeal for information today:

Disappointingly, the last known location of the bird has not been given other than ‘in the Stocksbridge area of Sheffield’. However, it can be narrowed down somewhat by a tweet published by a member of the RSPB’s Investigations Team, who said the harrier had vanished ‘in the Peak District’.

If you look on Google maps, Stocksbridge [red marker] is just outside the boundary of the Peak District National Park. If you cross the park boundary into the National Park, surprise, surprise, you’ll find a massive area of land managed for driven grouse shooting. A scientific study published in 2019 showed that hen harriers are ten times more likely to disappear/be killed over areas of land managed for grouse shooting relative to other land uses.

This area of the National Park is no stranger to reports of raptor persecution (see here) and another satellite-tagged hen harrier, called Octavia, also ‘disappeared’ here in 2018 (see here).

It looks like it’s time to update that ever-increasing list of ‘missing’ and ‘confirmed dead’ hen harriers….

UPDATE 26th February 2022: 61 hen harriers confirmed illegally killed or ‘missing’ since 2018, most of them on or close to UK grouse moors (here)

40 thoughts on “Another satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappears’ in Peak District National Park”

  1. Why are we still seeing this happening, it’s time to shut down all shooting, all driven grouse mores, and all pheasant shoots, and in fact go a bit further into legislation, make any bird of prey that goes missing on or neer a shooting area the responsibility of the gamekeepers, and landowners, and shut them down for a season for first offence, and permanently for any subsequent offence, end of story.
    Who do the police think is going to admit killing any bird of prey?, the only people who would know anything would be the killers, landowner, or gamekeepers, and they won’t say anything.
    It’s time to put an end to all of this, and the only people who can do this are sadly the very people responsible for it still happening, and mps are quite well funded by the killers, because the money involved the mo’s will not take action, except to assist the killers, and make it easier for them to keep making money, and keep their game birds safe, so it will never come to an end as long as the government keep taking hand outs…

    1. I agree can tracking devices be fitted to the birds of prey so they can be located easily and culprits brought to book

  2. I saw a male Hen Harrier a couple of weeks ago, and was so pleased, they are a magnificent bird, so incredibly rare, its time we had more of them, but im afraid theres a minority of people that do not want this, the majority of people do want an increase, the killers are greatly outnumbered, just take a look at conservation organisations membership numbers and compare it to the likes of basc etc its 4 to 1, and yet its still happening year in year out,
    I too am sick of this,

  3. I think there is a way around this always seeming to that birds(raptors) end up dead . Is that they have great value to the birding population, and general public. But no value to shooting world where often the raptors live as that tends, to be the last vestige of wild country. My solution is to pay a premium to shoots for breeding birds on their land and for when they are spotted on or some similar type of quantified target. Money would have to come from some central fund, possibly national lottery.

  4. Ah! The High Peak killing fields. Nothing much except grouse and heather can survive the biocleansing regime in that area.

  5. You never seem to mention when they “re-appear” though do you? Or that most were hatched on moorland managed for shooting, and spend most of their time on said moors so it stands to reason that when they disappear it will be near to a Moor managed for shooting. How many successfully hatched on managed moors compared to rspb sites? 🤔

    1. Hi Wayne, I’m not being argumentative but one study (the 2019 study by Murgatroyd, Redpath, etc cited in the blog text) among all the others will be useful to you or indeed anyone who is new to the subject of grouse moor management / raptor persecution. It encompasses your ‘beginners mistake’ re. harriers like moors + most moors are grouse moors = that is why they die there, etc. It is fairly easy to understand, hasn’t been refuted and helped the GWCT to conclude that harriers are illegally killed on grouse moors (see their “Fact Checker”). Please reply when you have read it, cheers.

      1. Grouse slauterers shoot them during their shoot as they are too ignorant to know the difference when the brain dead beaters harass everything on the moore.

  6. I have not known more than ONE bird ‘reappearing’, as you so quaintly put it, and it ‘reappeared’ out in the North Sea, where the signal circled for a few days before finally quitting (or sinking). Young birds of prey often wander widely, yet not That widely!

  7. Don’t know if anyone else read not to long ago about a tagged woodcock that went “missing” and then turned up transmitting a signal some considerable time later, GWCT Woodcock study/research. Just thought I’d mention it before we go into peak BAN it mode. Hey Ho.

  8. Isn’t it time that the RSPB published the fact that by far the most of successful nests are on managed grouse moors, (not their own reserves ) where often, the parent birds are given subsidised feeding when their brood hatches. Also that a very high percentage of these young birds die naturally in their first year. As they live over moorland, isn’t it extremely likely that they will die there too?
    Fed up with this biased reporting! State the full facts, encourage members to visit managed moors so they can see for themselves how much more wildlife there is compared to RSPB moorland, then let them form their own conclusions.

    1. Why don’t YOU…

      …”state the full facts”, instead of parroting the same old distortions?

      …tell us how many of those successful nests were unmonitored?

      …tell us how why so many of those Hen Harriers simply disappear without trace, despite the fact that their tags are designed to continue transmitting post mortem?

      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09044-w

      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ibi.12356

      https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2664.1999.00419.x

      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hen-harrier-satellite-tracking-programme-results-published

    2. Hello Alan,

      I’ve visited several moors and I’m sorry to say, I found them really unpleasant places. There was barely any wildlife to see, and certainly far, far less biodiversity than I’ve seen on RSPB reserves. I know people enjoy peace and quiet in the countryside but it was awful to witness absolute silence on a managed moor.

  9. Why do people still need to shoot anything for fun. They employ some of the most arrogant thugs to “manager” the grouse moors, and they are supported by the land owners who basically pay MPs by supporting them, to never look at changing this barbaric activity.
    These are the same groups who still carry out fox hunts, cavemen

    1. Yes including the sponging royal family who shoot for free. That charles couldn’t give a tihs about wildlife.

  10. The punishment for this crime are to meager and don’t hit the real culprit’s i.e. the land owners

  11. Sorry but if it is carrying a satellite tracker then they will know exactly where it disappeared, this area will be able to be narrowed down to a small area, this area will be over private land and by law the landowner will have a list of all those given permission to shoot over their land and will also know who was shooting that day/time. So many of these large landowners believe that they are above the law and cause so many problems for genuine shooter’s who gladly not only follow the law but actively promote conservation and protection of birds of prey, yet get tarred with the same brush as these landowners and their keepers, time to look at a change in the law so incidents like this hold a minimum punishment of a yearly ban on any shooting over their land and fines that actually punish, but these same landowners are Tory supporters so doubtful they will face any restrictions or even the law.

  12. Who ever is doing this should be ashamed of themselves they are such lovely birds and they should be left alone to live their lives in peace

  13. This has got to stop – or be stopped
    Everyone involved should be boycotted
    Mass drive through could disrupt access to shoots, including obstructing access by participants to venues.
    Seek public support by comparing killing raptors in UK with killing elephants in Africa.
    Support action by saboteurs – could birds be flushed before the guns were ready?
    There is a desperate need for focused action

  14. This is not surprising given the minute level of effort given to wildlife crime by both local authorities and the Police. They portray a combined team effort between many groups, total rubbish in reality. Report a wildlife crime and unless you have a 4k video of a crime they will ignore it. Report it to the RSPB they do nothing neither, they don’t follow up any Police investigation of persecution/habitat destruction. In the end those who can do something, do nothing. No surprise there?

  15. And the RSPB admitted they have cocked up in the past as the transmitters failed to work.

    How about the time they were tagging osprey fledglings and they died during to shock and being dropped?

    Let’s be clear about this. Sadly, there are a very small minority of gamekeepers who kill birds of prey. Extremely small. But we can not jump the gun everytime a bird goes missing.

    1. 1. Which transmitters?

      How many? Where, when, and what you claim these alleged failures actually prove?

      2. The Osprey accident has absolutely bugger all to do with this issue.

      https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/osprey-ringing-accident-fuels-malicious-and-hypocritical-abuse/

      https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/scotland/posts/sad-incident-whilst-ringing-an-osprey-chick

      3. Let’s be clear about this…

      Your “small minority of gamekeepers” are committing wildlife crime across the length and breath of the UK. Not only do they get around a bit, they’ve also managed to drive local extinctions in some species. Very efficient for “a small minority”!

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/reports-of-raptor-killings-soared-during-the-uks-lockdown

      https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/birdcrime-2020/

  16. Tell me lies sweet little lies Ruth tingay at her finest just wants to ban shooting hen harriers live on near grouse moors the propaganda machine at its finest

          1. Hey, well done, you managed a full stop!

            But oh dear, you let yourself down again by failing to…

            start the word “Coop” with a capital letter…

            begin the following sentence with a capital letter…

            include the correct space, preceding the word “hides”…

            use the word “facade” correctly…

            and end the second sentence with another full stop.

            It seems that you still have the same contempt for your own language as you have for the truth.

            Once again, 100 times on the blackboard…

            I must try harder to improve my grammar/punctuation when posting lies and childish insults online.

            1. Insult your the one who insults having a personal dig at me cause I don’t do all the punctuation s I never insulted anybody so get your facts right

                1. Yet again you verbally attack

                  [Ed: Paul, this is tedious. If you’ve got something to say other than accusing me of telling lies or trolling other contributors, then you’ll be welcome]

    1. Thanks Paul, I always like the chance to remind people that the intelligentsia (or as near as one will get) of the shooting world – that’s the GWCT, or the old Game Conservancy to most shooting folk – accept the findings of that well known Natural England report by Murgatroyd, Redpath, etc (which you maybe haven’t had time to glance at yet?) that deals with what I think is likely to be your point about where Harriers live and where they die.

      You can read the GWCT’s own fact checker at –

      https://www.whatthesciencesays.org/are-hen-harriers-illegally-killed-on-english-grouse-moors/

      “True” they say, Hen Harriers are illegally killed on grouse moors. So by your logic it must therefore follow that the GWCT also ‘wants to ban shooting’. I wonder if their members are aware of this?

      Oh, and “Who am I to disagree?”…etc etc

  17. Spotted a male hen harrier between xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx yesterday

    [Ed: Thanks, Lesley, I’ve passed this on to the local raptor study group]

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