Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey ‘partnership’ responds to news of hen harriers stamped to death in nest

Further to the news this week that four hen harrier chicks were stamped to death in their nest on an unnamed grouse moor inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see here), the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey ‘partnership’ has published the following statement:

Young hen harriers in a nest (not the nest in this current police investigation). Photo by Ian Newton

The Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership is shocked to hear of this apparently deliberate destruction of a hen harrier nest containing four chicks in the Whernside area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The group condemns raptor persecution in the strongest possible terms and agrees with North Yorkshire Police that there is no place for the selfish and illegal killing of wildlife in our countryside. All birds of prey are protected by law and killing them is a criminal offence.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident reference number 12220107140, log it online via the North Yorkshire Police website, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The group recognises more work needs to be done to address the challenges faced by bird of prey populations in the Yorkshire Dales and in the continued efforts to stamp out raptor persecution. [Ed: ‘….the continued efforts to stamp out raptors’ would be more fitting in this case].This incident is particularly disappointing given the encouraging breeding success of hen harriers this year and the focused efforts going on in the area to help rebuild the population.  


There are some notes for editors at the end, as follows:

The Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plans include objectives to tackle the illegal persecution of birds of prey and owls. This involves working closely with landowners, moorland managers, the Police and other key stakeholders to devise and implement a local approach to end illegal persecution of raptors.  

Given the comparable management plan objectives, the same issues affecting bird of prey populations in both protected landscapes, and the two areas comprising a contiguous area of similar upland habitat, a joint steering group was established in 2019 comprising a broad coalition of partners with a shared commitment to bird of prey conservation. 

The group includes representatives from British Association for Shooting & Conservation, Country Land & Business Association, Cumbria Constabulary, The Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Natural England, Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire Police, Northern England Raptor Forum, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.  

Natural England is the lead organisation for the delivery of the management plan objective in the National Park. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority provides the Chair and Secretariat for the steering group as a whole

The group aims to publish an annual report summarising bird of prey population status, monitoring and protection efforts, and confirmed persecution incidents in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The first report was published in March and provides a baseline from which progress can be measured over the coming years.   

Finally, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan can be viewed here, and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan can be viewed here.  


For those of us who’ve been around for a while, this so-called ‘partnership‘ is yet another greenwashing sham, very similar to the ‘partnership’ in the Peak District National Park (an absolute failure) and the national Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG, also an absolute failure).

I’ve no doubt that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is as genuinely angry about ongoing illegal raptor persecution as the rest of us; you only have to read previous statements by the Chair (e.g. see here and here) to see that.

However, that line in the latest press statement, ‘…a joint steering group was established in 2019 comprising a broad coalition of partners with a shared commitment to bird of prey conservation‘ isn’t fooling anybody.

It is plain to see which organisations in the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey ‘partnership’ are committed to bird of prey conservation, and which are not. There are clear conflicts of interest and members of some of these organisations have been, and still are, under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution offences. It’s bonkers that they are invited to sit at this table.

Why do we have to continue with this charade? It isn’t working, as is evident by the brazen stamping to death of those young hen harrier chicks in their nest – a disgusting crime, committed by someone who knows full well the chances of prosecution are negligible at best, even with a nest camera in place!

I’ve written before about why I think the Moorland Association (the grouse moor owners’ lobby group) shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near these raptor protection schemes (see here), and yet here we are, four years later, and it’s the same old, same old. Raptors are still being killed, the criminals are not being prosecuted, and the grouse shooting lobbyists can grandstand by pointing to their membership of these ‘partnerships’ as a way of pretending it’s all being sorted out.

9 thoughts on “Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey ‘partnership’ responds to news of hen harriers stamped to death in nest”

  1. And then they try to tell us the Harrier is only doing well because they are so well looked after on the Grouse moors.

  2. Your assessment of these matters I undoubtedly correct. I find it amazing that your blog will be read by all the parties to this state of affairs, but it
    still persists, and is perhaps even more brazen. Unless the authorities who are well aware that the piss is being taken do something about it, I personally conclude that they are complicit.

  3. Same old same old and all the shooting organisations on here as in all other “co-operative working are pressure and membership groups with absolutely NO ability to deliver, indeed mos are not delivery groups at all. Why are the NGO there as their members do exactly what their bosses in the MA tell them. I used to be involved in these sorts of things, the conservation side could and would deliver but it used to be the case and almost certainly still is that the others have no intention of changing what is already happening and indeed may stop any further change happening. Crocodile tears indeed.

  4. I would venture to say that these finely honed skills in mendacity that are on exhibition were gleaned and prefected historically while the ancestors of some of these “administraters” while working in the colonies. What surprises me is that they still function so smoothly and effortlessly in the Age of hi-tec surveillence machinery and instant communication and those facilitating such deception are so close too, and part of, the wheels of Government, both regional and nationally. The legal machinery inherent in all areas of process appears to operate with the same lack of clarity and honesty as was evident in our Empire, when it existed and was much condemned in hindsight.

  5. Ruth, I think you have hit the nail on the head with your observations.

    It is a bit like inviting burglars and drug dealers to sit down with the local neighbourhood watch group to discuss how to eradicate burglary and drug dealing, and then wondering why houses are still getting broken in to and drug dealers are still on the streets.

    The fact that the perpetrator in the crime which occurred near Whernside seemed to know of the presence of the nest, the fact it was camera monitored and how to avoid detection on that camera would suggest that whatever was discussed by The Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership regarding Hen Harrier nesting, and the efforts to safeguard nests somehow found it’s way to those who perpetrate these crimes.

    However, I am of the opinion that there will be individuals in BASC, the Moorland Association and the NGO who really do want to see an end to the relentless raptor persecution.
    I am sure they understand full well that the negative press linking game bird shooting and raptor persecution does their organisations no good, and undermines some of the positive conservation work they undertake.
    One of the challenges has to be to get them to understand just how embedded criminality is within game bird shooting, and how commercialisation with its emphasis on game bird numbers, bag size and the number of shoot days will inevitably lead to some individuals committing criminal acts.

    This is why I fail to understand why the umbrella groups of the game bird shooting industry are so opposed to the introduction of proper regulations, such as the proposed licensing scheme in Scotland.
    Only when there are regulations and enforceable sanctions, will a level playing field be created so that those estates which operate entirely within the law are not having to compete with those estates which through foul means are able offer larger bag sizes or more shoot days to a paying cliental.

    It is also very noticeable that commercial shooting enterprises place a great deal of emphasis in their adverts of the large number game bird numbers to be shot, bag size etc.
    This also has to change, so that raison d’etre of game bird shooting is focused more on conservation, the diversity of wildlife which will be seen when out in the hills, and the importance of shooting funding conservation work and habitat restoration, with only a limited part of the activity actually being focused on the shooting of game birds.
    Such moves might not appeal to all guns- but in world which is becoming ever more aware of the importance of preserving the natural environment and improving wildlife diversity, are such guns what the game bird shooting industry really needs, if it wants to be relevant to a planet which is having to adapt to all the problems associated with climate change, habitat loss and an extinction crises?

  6. The bit I chuckle at is “the senseless killing of wildlife” …….obviously this doesn’t include blowing almost tame grouse and pheasant out of the air

  7. I keep wondering who was responsible for drafting and agreeing the ‘partnership’ statement. Surely, given the context, there were other means of describing attempts to curtail raptor persecution than by referring to continued efforts to stamp it out. It’s almost as though someone is taking the piss. It is clumsy, thoughtless, phrasing at the very least.
    Given the horrendous nature of this incident, I am both surprised and disappointed that it does not appear to have been picked up by the national media. Maybe the lengthy delay in the details being released made it less newsworthy. Indeed, was this a deliberate ploy, as has been touched upon above?

  8. The longer you leave it to kick the bully back, the longer you will suffer. But wait….. `Bully Protection rule`.. `Anyone found kicking the Bully will be expelled from school`

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