Hen harrier goes ‘missing’ from a Peak District grouse moor – police confirm his satellite tag had been deliberately cut off

Press release from RSPB (16th March 2023)


*Anu, a satellite tagged Hen Harrier, vanished after roosting near Upper Midhope in the Peak District National Park – on land managed for driven grouse shooting.

*RSPB Investigations Officers located the bird’s tag three days later and police forensics found it had been deliberately cut off the bird. Investigators fear the bird was illegally killed and his tag removed to hide the evidence.

*Anu joins a long list of birds of prey which have suspiciously disappeared or been killed in relation to land managed for driven grouse shooting. Licensing of grouse shooting as a meaningful deterrent to wildlife crime is needed in England, replicating current proposals in Scotland.

Anu being satellite-tagged before fledging in Bowland in 2021. Photo: RSPB

Yet another mysterious disappearance involving a rare Hen Harrier has been identified by the RSPB and South Yorkshire Police.

Anu, a young male, tagged in Bowland in 2021, was one of several young Hen Harriers fitted with a satellite tag by the RSPB: a small, unobtrusive device which enables scientists to monitor the movements of individual birds and gain greater understanding of this rare and criminally persecuted species.

Anu’s tag indicated that he was roosting on a grouse moor near Upper Midhope on 10 February 2022. However, the tag data showed unusual movement from the bird after 10.25pm that night, when Anu would normally have been stationary.

The tag’s next signal on 11 February was more surprising still, indicating the bird was dead. After an intensive search, the tag was found, some 9km away to the east, on 14 February at Wharncliffe Chase. But suspiciously there was no sign of the body.

This was reported to South Yorkshire Police and forensic analysis confirmed the tag harness had been cut by a human rather than bitten or pulled off. The RSPB suspects that Anu was killed, and the body and tag separated to remove evidence from the crime scene, with the tag then dumped. Anu’s body remains missing, and further enquiries have been unsuccessful.

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “To find Anu’s tag detached from his body, having been deliberately cut off, categorically shows human involvement. It is highly suspicious that he roosted on a grouse moor the night before, was unexpectedly active in the hours of darkness and hasn’t been seen since.

We suspect that Anu was killed that night, his tag cut off and then the body dumped away from the grouse moor by someone trying to cover their tracks. The deliberate killing of a wild bird is illegal, yet sadly criminal persecution has been identified is the main reason driving Hen Harrier declines.”

A 2019 study of satellite-tagged Hen Harriers by Natural England revealed that 72% of 58 satellite-tagged Hen Harriers were either confirmed or considered very likely to have been illegally killed. Furthermore, it found that Hen Harriers were ten times more likely to vanish mysteriously or die on a grouse moor than anywhere else.

Tom added: “When only a small percentage of Hen Harriers in the UK are tagged, you can’t help wonder what is happening to the other non-tagged birds. This is a species in trouble, and the UK population remains far below what it should be. As the nature crisis tightens its grip, illegal persecution of raptors must be stopped and that will only happen through the licensing of driven grouse moors – as is happening in Scotland – to bring accountability to this form of land management.

The RSPB would like to thank South Yorkshire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) for their work on this case.

If you have any information about this incident, or know of anyone killing birds of prey, please call South Yorkshire Police on 101. The RSPB also has a dedicated confidential Raptor Hotline: 0300 999 0101. This is for information relating to crimes involving birds of prey only.


The news of this latest ‘missing’ hen harrier coincides with the publication of some (more) propaganda from Natural England yesterday about how they’re planning to extend their dodgy hen harrier brood meddling trial. I’ll comment on that over the weekend, because that coincides with a recent FoI response I received about NE’s plans for brood meddling, but I won’t have time to write it before the weekend.

Meanwhile, I’ll just update the VERY long list of hen harriers that have been confirmed illegally killed or that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, mostly on or close to grouse moors, since the start of NE’s hen harrier brood meddling trial in 2018. We’re up to 77 and counting… I don’t see Natural England promoting those awkward but damning data.

Anu was already on the list of 77 – his suspicious disappearance was reported in February 2022 (here).

Natural England’s response to sentencing of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen

Following the sentencing last week of criminal gamekeeper Paul Allen in Dorset (here), I’ve been reviewing the responses from various organisations including the RSPB (here), the game-shooting industry (here) and Dorset Police (here).

Today I’m reviewing Natural England’s response.

Natural England (NE) published the following blog (reproduced below) on the day Allen was sentenced (16th Feb 2023):

By Stephanie Bird-Halton, National Delivery Director.

Today, Paul Allen, a gamekeeper working on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset, was sentenced for offences of possession of dead buzzards, keeping of banned pesticides and failing to comply with conditions of shotgun and firearms certificates.

Natural England is determined to tackle the scourge of raptor persecution. One of our roles involves investigating incidents where wildlife has been poisoned and we assisted Dorset Police in in this prosecution, gathering evidence and providing specialist technical advice. We are extremely pleased that he has been held to account for his appalling offences against wildlife.

This case, and the death in Dorset of one of the stunning White-tailed Eagles reintroduced to the Isle of Wight, are clear examples of a wider problem: the widespread misuse and abuse of poisons in the countryside which is killing birds of prey, and poses ongoing risks to the public.

During the coronavirus lockdown period, there was a spike in the number of poisoning cases reported with 230 accepted into the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) in 2020/21 as compared with 124 in 2019/20 and the problem has not gone away. In 2021/22, Natural England accepted 133 incidents of animal deaths suspected to be poisonings into WIIS. Cases remain unevenly spread throughout England with the highest number of incidents consistently being found in North Yorkshire (28 in 2019/20 and 54 in 2020/21).

When we investigate an incident and confirm it is a poisoning, we assess the evidence gathered, post-mortem results and tissue analysis to find out if the poisoning was as a result of a misuse or abuse of pesticides. Misuse is not following the legal requirements of use, whereas abuse is deliberate use in an illegal manner to poison animals. Where the evidence is unclear, cases are classified as “unspecified”. Not all cases accepted into investigation reach the assessment process, particularly where it becomes clear that pesticides have not been involved in the death of the animal.

In 2020/21, 37 cases of animal poisoning were assessed as being the result of abuse. There were six cases of misuse and 140 unspecified. 21 of the abuse cases related to the poisoning of raptors and these cases were passed on to the Police for further investigation.

The RSPB’s Bird crime 2021 report, published last November tells the same story of raptor persecution, with 80 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in England, mainly through shooting, trapping or poisoning.

Based on data from WIIS, from 2016 onward, Natural England has observed a particular increase in frequency of Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARS) being linked to the cause of death in animals or being found in relatively high concentrations in those animals.

Rodent control is essential to public health and users of rodenticides, including SGARS, span many industries including pest controllers, farmers and food producers. Other users of rodenticides include the game shooting industry. The use of anticoagulant rodenticides by professional users must follow the requirements of the industry led rodenticide stewardship regime Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK set up in 2016, as well as complying with the product label requirements.

It is imperative that anyone dealing with a rodent problem keeps within the law, follows the best practice guidelines, only using rodenticides after alternatives have been explored and doing so in a graduated, careful and responsible way, ensuring that rodent carcasses are disposed of promptly. However, cases of raptors dying with high levels of rodenticides in their system suggest there is a problem with the use of rodenticides – whether this be from deliberate abuse or misuse.

NE will continue to play its part, investigating poisoning incidents and working with the police and other partners to prosecute offences. Anyone can help – reports from the public can play an essential part in identifying cases of raptor persecution. However, without all landowners, land managers and gamekeepers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue.


It’s a bit all over the place to be honest, mostly focusing on the mis-use of rodenticides, which, whilst important in the wider scheme of things, had nothing whatsoever to do with gamekeeper Paul Allen’s conviction.

It’s interesting though that they mention the poisoned white-tailed eagle that was found dead on the same estate ten months after Allen’s crimes were discovered (and for which nobody has been held responsible because Dorset Police botched the investigation). Natural England had a role to play in the follow-up to that botched investigation, along with the Health & Safety Executive, and I’ll return to this once NE has responded to some pending Freedom of Information requests.

The last sentence in NE’s statement is just laughable:

However, without all landowners, land managers and gamekeepers complying with the law and reporting illegal activity, the impact on our wildlife will continue‘.

You don’t say!

But at least NE has explicitly laid the blame of raptor persecution at the door of the game-shooting industry. That is helpful from a campaigning perspective.

In addition to this blog, NE’s Chief Executive Marian Spain tweeted about the case:

She came in for some criticism from others on Twitter for failing to mention the other partners involved with this successful prosecution, notably the RSPB, just as Dorset Police had failed to acknowledge their involvement. Although in Marian’s case I doubt this was a deliberate, petty and vindictive move, unlike Dorset Police’s probable motivation.

But what struck me most about her tweet was her claim that one of the ways NE works to tackle raptor persecution is by ‘working with shooting bodies to change attitudes‘ and by ‘prosecuting offenders‘.

How’s that going then, Marian? How many attitudes has NE changed? Given that 2020 saw the highest level of reported raptor persecution crimes in 30 years (here) and the most recent report from 2021 had the second highest number on record (here), I’d argue that attitudes haven’t changed one bit.

She might point to DEFRA’s ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling sham as ‘evidence of changed attitudes’ (because a handful of grouse moor owners are now ‘allowing’ hen harriers to breed) but I’d point out that since hen harrier brood meddling began in 2018, at least 77 hen harriers are known to have been illegally killed or have gone ‘missing’, mostly on or close to grouse moors (here). That’s not a change in attitude. That’s evidence of on-going law breaking by an industry that NE has jumped into bed with, switched on the electric blanket and pulled up the duvet.

And as for ‘prosecuting offenders‘, I think Guy Shorrock’s tweet says it all (Guy, a now-retired RSPB Investigator, worked for 30 years in this field so I think he’s well placed to ask the question):

Red kite found poisoned on Swinton Estate – North Yorkshire Police refuses to investigate

Last November I was reading an online article on the Teeside Live website about the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Yorkshire being dubbed ‘the bird poisoning capital of the UK‘ (here).

The article was illustrated with various photographs, including this image of a poisoned red kite that was reportedly found dead at Roundhill Reservoir, near Masham in 2021:

The given location caught my eye as I understand the Roundhill Reservoir is surrounded by the Swinton Estate, a notorious grouse-shooting estate that has been at the centre of police investigations into confirmed and alleged raptor persecution for years.

For example, this is the estate where hen harrier ‘Bowland Betty’ was found dead in 2012, later confirmed to have been shot (here & here) although it has never been established whether she was shot on or off the estate. It’s also where a Swinton Estate gamekeeper was convicted for twice setting an illegal pole trap in 2013 (here) and where another hen harrier, ‘River’, was found shot dead in 2019 (here). Around the same time as River’s demise, an unidentified gunman had been filmed with two dogs walking through a hen harrier roost on the estate (here). There have also been reports from local raptor workers of the ‘mysterious disappearances’ of many raptors on this estate for over a decade.

The owner of Swinton Estate is Mark Cunliffe-Lister, Earl of Swinton, who in 2020 became the new Chairman of the grouse moor owners’ lobby group, the Moorland Association (here). This is a high profile position and in recent years Mr Cunliffe-Lister’s estate has become somewhat of a poster child for DEFRA’s ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling trial, where the estate has championed the removal of some hen harrier chicks in return for permitting others to remain and to be diversionary fed by estate staff, although this hasn’t been without controversy either after it emerged that Natural England had appeared to ‘bend the rules’ in favour of estate activities (e.g. see here). Controversially, in 2021 a Guardian journalist described Swinton Estate as the ‘hen harrier’s friend’ (here), supported by a statement from Stephen Murphy (Natural England) about the estate’s head gamekeeper, “What he’s done for harriers, word’s can’t describe“. Murphy also claimed that hen harrier Bowland Betty had definitely been shot elsewhere and merely flew on to the estate to die – an unevidenced claim that was later amended in the article. Last year the estate won what was described as ‘a prestigious conservation award’ for its involvement in the hen harrier brood meddling trial (here).

So, back to that article I was reading in November 2022. I didn’t recall hearing about a poisoned red kite being found on the Swinton Estate in 2021 and I’m pretty sure I would have remembered, given the location, so I did some digging to make sure the poisoning had been confirmed and the location verified, just in case the journalist had cocked up (she’d already mistakenly described Nidderdale as a ‘village’ instead of a region so I couldn’t rely on her account of the poisoned red kite to be accurate).

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), North Yorkshire
Roundhill Reservoir in the Nidderdale AONB

I found details about this crime on the HSE’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme spreadsheet, which confirmed the kite had been found poisoned on a Right of Way footpath in November 2021. The poisons found in the kite’s stomach included Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Chloralose and Isofenphos – this highly toxic combination has become known as the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ as it’s so frequently used to kill birds of prey in this region, especially red kites (e.g. see here, here, here).

The red star denotes the approximate location of the poisoned red kite found in November 2021, close to Roundhill Reservoir and surrounded by the grouse moors of Swinton Estate

However, I couldn’t find any media coverage of this crime, nor any police appeals for information, nor any warnings to the public about the continued use of poisons so dangerous that some of them have been banned for years. Given that a year had already passed since the poisoned kite was discovered, I found this puzzling. So I contacted North Yorkshire Police’s rural crime team and asked them about the status of the investigation:

Here’s the astonishing response I received:

This North Yorkshire Police Inspector admitted that this poisoned red kite “unfortunately slipped through the net” but then went on to justify the police’s decision not to investigate by accusing the RSPB of failing to notify the police about this incident when the poisoned kite was first picked up. He claimed the police only found out about it five months later, in April 2022, whilst chasing the lab for the results of another investigation.

His allegations about the RSPB aside (and which I’ll come to, below), I was still stunned that he thought that launching an investigation, and issuing a public appeal for information, let alone issue a warning to the public about the use of poisons in the countryside, wasn’t worthwhile due to the ‘passage of time’ (five months), especially given the location where the poisoned kite had been found.

A couple of years ago a previous North Yorkshire Police Inspector had issued a public appeal/warning, ten months after the discovery of another poisoned red kite in Nidderdale (see here), so it seemed to me that there was no reason not to issue one after a five month delay.

I wrote back to North Yorkshire Police asking for an explanation:

Apparently, it wasn’t up for debate. Here’s the response I received:

Meanwhile, I contacted the RSPB and put to them the allegations this Inspector had made, that the RSPB hadn’t notified the police about the discovery of this red kite. It turns out those allegations were utterly unfounded/untrue. The RSPB DID contact North Yorkshire Police, on the day the poisoned kite was discovered, and took instruction from the police about submitting the corpse for toxicology analysis. Furthermore, they had the email correspondence to prove it:

So what are we to make of North Yorkshire Police’s refusal to investigate a confirmed poisoning incident (a so-called national wildlife crime priority), on an estate with a long history of alleged wildlife crime, that has enjoyed recent adulation from Natural England staff and the media, that has played a significant role in the hen harrier brood meddling trial, and whose owner is a high profile representative of the grouse-shooting industry?

Does Mr Cunliffe-Lister even know about this poisoned kite being found on his estate? Given the Moorland Association’s claimed ‘zero tolerance’ of raptor persecution, and Mr Cunliffe-Lister’s widely-reported apparent welcoming of birds of prey on his estate, I’d have expected him to speak out and condemn this disgraceful poisoning incident, as any decent landowner would. It’d be interesting to know whether North Yorkshire Police have informed him, or not.

Whatever, North Yorkshire Police’s refusal to investigate this crime is wholly unacceptable. In the first instance, I’ll be writing a letter of complaint to the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Zoe Metcalfe.

In her Police and Crime Plan 2022-2025 (here), she details an objective of ‘an improved [police] response to crime in rural areas, especially wildlife crime...’ as this had been identified as a major concern for North Yorkshire residents in the recent PCC consultation.

I would urge blog readers who reside in North Yorkshire to also submit a complaint and to request she conducts an inquiry into why North Yorkshire Police refused to investigate this serious crime.

Please send your (polite and respectful) emails to: info@northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk

I’ll provide an update on this blog when a response has been received.

UPDATE 23.30hrs: Natural England’s senior management team has a lovely day out…on Swinton Estate!! (see here).

Hen harrier chicks stamped to death in nest: how the shooting industry manipulated the narrative

I’ve written many times about how the shooting industry is intent on manipulating the narrative surrounding the illegal killing of birds of prey. Whether that be by publishing blatant propaganda about the extent of these crimes, so distorted the truth is barely recognisable (e.g. here, here, here, here), or by simply choosing not to mention, let alone condemn, the ongoing criminal attacks on raptors by gamekeepers (e.g. see here, here, here). Sometimes there will be a condemnation but often it is quickly overridden by a sneering attempt to undermine the integrity and credibility of the investigators, usually the RSPB (e.g. see here and here).

Recently, this manipulation of the narrative around raptor persecution has manifested in attacks by the shooting industry on the police forces issuing appeals for information about suspected crimes (e.g. see here and here for two very recent examples).

Less obvious is the behind-the-scenes manipulation; the conversations that go on behind closed doors that the public rarely gets to see, usually within the so-called ‘partnerships’ such as the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative (e.g. see here and here) or the national Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG – see here). This sly under-handedness only comes to light after freedom of information requests by those of us who are unwilling to believe a word the shooting industry says when it comes to illegal raptor persecution.

And this leads me to the latest example of how the narrative is being manipulated. This time it relates to the media put out by the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership (another sham group) about the brutal stamping to death of a nest of hen harrier chicks last summer on a grouse moor on Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To recap the details of that horrific story, which for some strange reason only emerged six months later in December 2022, please see here.

Hen harrier chicks in a nest (not the nest at Whernside where the chicks were stamped on). Photo: Ian Newton

North Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for information about this crime on 14th December 2022 (see here). I want you to pay attention to the unequivocal words used by the police to describe this incident (underlined in red, below): that they suspected the nest of hen harrier chicks had been “deliberately destroyed by human activity“:

Prior to this appeal for information being published, the previous week North Yorkshire Police had sent a final draft to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) so they wouldn’t be unsighted by the news when it was published. We know this because a Yorkshire Dales resident, who also follows this blog, submitted a freedom of information request to the YDNPA in December to ask about internal comms within the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership about this crime. Everything that follows is a result of that FoI (thank you to the blog reader!).

On 14th December 2022, just after North Yorkshire Police had published its appeal for information, Mark Sadler, Communications Manager at the YDNPA sent around a draft press release to the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership’s communications sub-group and asked if all the partners would sign up to it. Here is his draft press release (please pay close attention to the words I’ve underlined in red):

It’s a strong statement, unequivocal in its condemnation, just as North Yorkshire Police’s statement was.

Here is the email Mark sent around to the ‘Partnership’ sub-group:

The first ‘partner’ to respond to Mark’s draft statement was the Moorland Association (the grouse moor owners’ lobby group in England). Here’s its response:

The next partner to respond, shortly afterwards, was BASC:

Right on cue, the next ‘partner’ to respond was the National Gamekeepers Organisation, as follows:

You’ll note that all three ‘partners’ from the shooting industry are intent on watering down North Yorkshire Police’s statement, moving the focus away from the police’s assertion that the stamping and killing of the hen harrier chicks in their nest was “deliberate“, and instead suggesting that it was “apparently deliberate“. They also want to big up the increase in the number of breeding hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales/Nidderdale area that has happened as a result of the ludicrous brood meddling trial, carefully omitting to mention the ongoing persecution of hen harriers (77 illegally killed or ‘missing’ since the brood meddling trial began in 2018, a number of them in the Yorkshire Dales/Nidderdale area – see here).

The fourth ‘partner’ to respond was the RSPB, as follows:

The RSPB’s response starts strongly but then caves in and accepts the ‘apparently deliberate‘ narrative because it thinks its more important that the Partnership issues a statement and it knows that without a conviction, the police’s assertion that it was a deliberate act is contestable, even though the police’s view is based on having full sight of all the evidence. The RSPB asks for ‘three further small amendments’ to the draft text but I don’t know what those entailed because they weren’t included in the FoI response.

Mark Sadler from the YDNP adjusts the draft statement to incorporate the manipulations requested by the shooting industry ‘partners’ and he sends the final version to North Yorkshire Police:

North Yorkshire Police responds to this with a very, very clear message, reinforcing the view that whoever disabled the nest camera and then inflicted horrific injuries to those young hen harriers by stamping them to death, did so deliberately:

Unfortunately there is no other plausible serious explanation for the injuries to all the 3 chicks and Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit were all in agreement“:

Here is the Partnership’s final statement, which was published on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s website on 15th December 2022. The parts I’ve underlined in red are the changes made between this final version and the original draft version:

As you can see, the changes are subtle, but are significant. The shooting industry representatives have introduced an element of doubt about the intention of whoever stamped on those chicks, despite North Yorkshire Police’s position (and that of Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit) that the stamping was deliberate with the intention of killing the hen harrier chicks.

The insertion of a statement about increased breeding success for hen harriers and ‘focused efforts in the area to rebuild the population‘ leave the uninformed reader non the wiser about the ongoing illegal persecution of this species on grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale and beyond.

What does this charade tell us about the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership? Nothing we didn’t already know – despite a few earnest members, it’s another sham overrun by ‘partners’ with a vested interest in playing down the extent of raptor persecution in the area. It’s quite obvious that publicity about these crimes is bad news for the shooting industry – it damages their reputation and will, sooner rather than later, lead to statutory reform of game shooting as is now happening in Scotland, in large part because the public has been made aware of what’s going on and has demanded the Government takes action.

‘Vast’ egg collection, including hen harrier & osprey eggs, seized by Suffolk Police

Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team has seized what it describes as a ‘vast’ egg collection in Halesworth. The haul is thought to include clutches of hen harrier and osprey eggs.

The police raid last Friday was part of Operation Easter, a policing initiative that began in Scotland 25 years ago (see here for background) that primarily targets wild bird egg thieves, although in recent years it has been expanded to also cover related crimes such as the online trade in eggs and the disturbance of nests for photography (see here).

This initiative is a good example of partnership-working. It’s facilitated by the National Wildlife Crime Unit that leads on intelligence reports and key partners include UK police forces and the RSPB’s Investigations Team. It’s seen some major successes over the years, with convictions often including custodial sentences, and large numbers of wild bird eggs being taken out of circulation.

More information about illegal egg collections can be found on the RSPB’s website here.

Well done to Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team for keeping the public informed.

Job opportunity: seasonal fieldworkers for national hen harrier survey

The RSPB is recruiting for eight seasonal fieldworkers (six in Scotland, two in Wales) for the 2023 National Hen Harrier Survey.

These temporary research assistant positions begin in March 2023, for four months, for 37.5 hours per week.

Job description:

These posts require considerable experience of conducting fieldwork in upland areas. The post holders should have a good knowledge of Hen harrier ecology and should also be able to ensure the smooth running of the survey by dealing diplomatically with all interested parties. Fieldwork will involve long and unsociable hours in the field, and will be physically demanding. Extensive travel to remote locations will also be required. If work from home is not possible the post holder will be responsible for finding their own accommodation, although the RSPB will be able to contribute towards costs. Mountain skills training course to be provided at the start of the contract, if needed.

The closing date for applications is 23.59hrs on Sunday 8th January 2023.

For further details and to apply, please click here.

Peak District National Park – who is it for & who runs it? Guest blog by Bob Berzins

Guest blog written by conservation campaigner Bob Berzins, who has featured previously on this blog here, here and here.

The Raptor Persecution UK blog recently reported the most horrific cruelty towards hen harriers with four chicks stamped to death in a nest on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park [here] and this was compounded by a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority meeting where one of the Authority Board members stated the Dales is not natural country for hen harriers and red kites apparently because you don’t see them there [here]. Many readers of this blog know you don’t see these raptors because they’ve been killed and we all campaign in our own way to try to stop this happening.

In this guest blog I’ll take a look at the situation in the Peak District, the discussions within the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) about birds of prey, who makes the decisions on policy and where the decision makers’ loyalties lie.

Photo by Ruth Tingay

First of all a little bit about the structure of National Park Authorities, taken from the Peak District National Park Authority’s website:

The National Park Authority is a public body made up of two groups of people – members and officers. The members are the people who make the decisions. They are responsible for setting policies and objectives, ensuring resources are well used and money is well spent. The officers are employees who work to the policies and carry out the decisions made by members. On routine matters members ask officers to take decisions directly, in line with agreed policies. Overall responsibility for the work of the officers lies with the Chief Executive‘.

There was a Peak District National Park Authority Meeting on 20th May 2022 where members discussed progress on delivery of the Park’s Management Plan (2018-2023). Officers were present to provide details of action taken.

Background: over the last year or so there’s been three incidents involving deaths and disappearances of hen harriers in the Peak District: The reported disappearance of a hen harrier in the Stocksbridge area in February 2022 [here], followed by the disappearance of male birds from two nest sites in the Upper Derwent Valley [here] which resulted in the nests failing. The meeting took place just after the nest failures were publicised.

One of the abandoned hen harrier nests in 2022. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group.

Audio of the PDNPA meeting in May 2022 [listen here] 1:26:55 to 1:34.

Peak District National Park Management Plan 2018-2023 here.

During the meeting on 22nd May 2022, PDNPA Member Charlotte Farrell asked why the following target in the Management Plan is never met:

Restore populations of birds of prey to at least the levels present in the late 1990s, with the addition of hen harrier as a regularly successful breeding species‘.

She commented that the PDNPA needed to look at moorland management and grouse shooting and to be vocal about this.

Robert Helliwell was the PDNPA Member with responsibility for Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Farming (his term ended 30 June 2022). His response was astonishing:

Rewilding devastates bird populations because you lose the habitat for them.”

This was from the PDNPA Member – the person making decisions in the Peak District National Park – whose area of responsibility was biodiversity. And of course, he obviously sidestepped the request to be vocal on the links between grouse moor management and raptor persecution.

Also during the meeting, PDNPA Chair Andrew McCloy mentioned a “reputational risk” for the Authority but then said it’s an issue “out of our control”.

We need to challenge this derogation of public responsibility especially due to the secrecy of meetings between the PDNPA and shooting representatives and the involvement of pro-shooting groups in the management of the National Park – more of this below.

During the meeting, the Peak Park officer with responsibility for Landscapes described the recent “Chatsworth Moorland Managers Meeting” attended by South Yorkshire Police. There are the usual platitudes about how disappointing it is that two hen harrier nests failed and a complete failure to acknowledge why birds of prey disappear from grouse moors. These Chatsworth meetings are secret – there are no minutes and no list of attendees. If the PDNPA was serious about raptor persecution they would be very open about all the actions they were taking.

The PDNPA meeting in May 2022 provided a snapshot of one lone voice speaking out against wildlife crime. What about the other PDNPA members?

There are 30 members in the PDNPA. Sixteen are appointed by county, district, city or borough councils. Fourteen are appointed by the Secretary of State, eight of these have “specialist” knowledge to help the PDNPA and six are Parish Councillors. In total, eight members register an interest in the Conservative party and the Secretary of State is in a Conservative government. It’s easy to see how a National Park Authority can become a microcosm of the ruling party of government, especially when there’s no clear process for who gets “invited” to be a National Park Authority member.

May 2022 was the final PDNPA meeting for Robert Helliwell and the new person with responsibility for Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Farming is David Chapman, who lists an interest in Bolshaw Crop Nutrition, a local company that produces Industrial Powders, mainly lime based. Limestone quarrying is one of the biggest industries in the Peak District.

David Chapman is also Chair of the Land Managers Forum which was set up in 2006 by the PDNPA and ‘partners’ [here]. Four PDNPA members attend this forum and other attendees are nominated by National Farmers Union and Country Land & Business Association, formerly Countryside Landowners Association and a partner in ‘Aim to Sustain’, a coalition of game shooting interests which promotes game shooting. The PDNPA does not provide a list of the attendees (or their affiliations), no minutes are published and meetings are secret. These meetings are attended by PDNPA members with decision making powers but there is absolutely no accountability. This is supposed to be ‘democracy’.

As far as I’m concerned, there couldn’t be a clearer link between the PDNPA and game shooting. The PDNPA is supposed to be tackling the biodiversity crisis and I’m sure they’ll produce a very nice document to that end. But in the uplands grouse moor owners will look after their own interests, as they always have done and the PDNPA will go along their wishes.

This structure is about as democratic as the pandemic VIP lane for procurements. And until it changes raptor persecution in the Peak District will continue.

The purposes of the PDNPA are to preserve the natural landscape and to help people enjoy these areas. Instead, landowners’ interests are the priority and wildlife crimes are overlooked [Ed: see previous blog on abuse of power used to shield raptor killers in the Peak District NP here]. And don’t forget, National Parks are part of our government – apparently we voted for this.


Yorkshire Dales National Park “not natural country for hen harriers & red kites” according to National Park Authority Board member

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) held a Board meeting earlier this week to discuss proposals for determining several ‘priority species’ that need additional help to thrive within the National Park.

The draft list includes a number of raptor species, including hen harrier, red kite and peregrine. There is a long and well-documented history of the persecution of all three species within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the neighbouring Nidderdale AONB in areas dominated by driven grouse moors (e.g. see here and here) so it’s no surprise to see these three species highlighted as needing additional conservation measures.

Photo by Ruth Tingay

The YDNPA meeting on 13th December started with a presentation by Dr Tony Serjeant, the Senior Wildlife Conservation Officer, outlining the Authority’s proposals and then Board members were invited to comment and ask questions of YDNPA staff, prior to a vote.

The comments of two Board members, Councillor Yvonne Peacock and farmer Allen Kirkbride, were astounding. And I mean absolutely gob-smacking in the extent of their ignorance. That these two individuals should be considered competent to serve on the YDNPA Board to discuss matters of environmental significance is extremely worrying. I don’t doubt that they have important experience and expertise in some other areas, but their ecological illiteracy is just embarrassing.

Some of the comments were picked up and published in an article on the website Richmondshire Today (here) but it’s worth listening to them in full and in the context of the wider discussion. Fortunately, the YDNPA records its meetings and an audio recording of this particular discussion can be heard here.

First up was Councillor Yvonne Peacock, speaking about the inclusion of the house sparrow on the list of potential priority species (recording starts at 23.25 mins):

“We’ve got the house sparrow there, and yet we’ve got these great big sparrowhawks that take every garden bird imaginable, no doubt the house sparrow as well. How do we actively, you know, preserve these birds when we have like a conflict in, well the Government’s law I should say, I just find that it is so difficult, so, that’s probably my ignorance, but it’s just a question really”.

Then we had Wensleydale farmer Allen Kirkbride, responding to Tony Serjeant’s comment that raptor persecution in the National Park needs to end, and highlighting that although red kites have been seen prospecting and flying over the National Park, there still aren’t any records of breeding attempts (recording starts at 34.23 mins):

“Hen harriers, John, is it true that there’s certain [inaudible] they breed them and let, er, I think there was four hen harriers, and let them go [Ed: I presume he means hen harrier brood meddling]. The story is that two of them were later traced to the south of Spain, another one to the south of England, and another one disappeared. The thing is about letting these birds of prey go, especially hen harriers, it’s not natural country for them, we’ve never had hen harriers up here. You can introduce them but obviously they don’t want to stay. It’s fine making, you know, a lot of noise about hen harriers but they don’t, you know, you can let them go but if they don’t want to stay they won’t stay.

Earlier this year, red kites, we did have round us up to eight and it was quite a sight, but they’ve all flown off elsewhere and you know, I don’t, you know, they say all this PR, somebody’s [inaudible] with them, I don’t think they are, I just don’t think they want to stay around this area ‘cos it’s not natural area for them, and they just fly away, on, you know, to their own accord”.

Christ on a bike! Can somebody please educate Mr Kirkbride about hen harrier dispersal strategies? And about the extent of raptor persecution inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Ironically, this Board meeting took place one day before North Yorkshire Police issued the appeal for information about four hen harrier chicks that had been stamped to death in their nest, on a grouse moor, inside the National Park.

All credit to Dr Tony Serjeant, who managed to respond to both Board members without any hint of frustration. There were strong similarities to the Cairngorms National Park Authority Board meeting I blogged about last year (see here) where CNPA staff had to deal with some near-hysteria Board members’ responses when they learned that tackling intensive gamebird management was in the Park’s plan.

Tony Serjeant also told Mr Kirkbride that hen harriers were currently breeding in the YDNP but he only had figures from about two years ago. He said he couldn’t provide details of the current status of hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park because “Natural England seems to be rather reticent in letting us have the latest [hen harrier] figures for what’s going on, and that’s a little bit disappointing“.

That’s interesting, espeically given the supposed ‘partnership’ between Natural England and the YDNPA on the ‘Yorkshire Dales Birds of Prey Partnership‘!

Perhaps Natural England only provides data to organisations that have ‘donated‘ some cash??

Anyway, the outcome of the YDNPA Board meeting was that the approach taken to identify the priority species was approved by the Board and a final list will be published in June 2023 (see YDNPA press release here).

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.

77 hen harriers confirmed ‘missing’ or illegally killed in UK since 2018, most of them on or close to 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, four young hen harriers stamped to death in their nest, on a grouse moor, inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park, on 20th June 2022 (see here).

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 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 77 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 and DEFRA Ministers remain silent.

‘Partnership working’ according to Natural England 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 £75k bung from representatives of the grouse shooting industry that prevents Natural England from criticising them or the sham brood meddling trial (see here). This is in addition to a £10k bung that Natural England accepted, under the same terms, in 2021 (here).

[Cartoon by Gerard Hobley]

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 the 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).

14 December 2019: Hen harrier Oscar ‘disappeared’ in Eskdalemuir, south Scotland (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).

2020: 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). We learned 18 months later that her wings had been ripped off so her tag could be fitted to a crow in an attempt to cover up her death (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).

15 November 2021: Hen harrier (brood meddled in 2020, #R2-F1-20) ‘disappeared’ at the edge of a grouse moor on Arkengarthdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

19 November 2021: Hen harrier Val ‘disappeared’ in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria (here).

19 November 2021: Hen harrier Percy ‘disappeared’ in Lothian, Scotland (here).

12 December 2021: Hen harrier Jasmine ‘disappeared’ on a grouse moor (High Rigg Moor on the Middlesmoor Estate) in the Nidderdale AONB in North Yorkshire (here).

9 January 2022: Hen harrier Ethel ‘disappeared’ in Northumberland (here).

26 January 2022: Hen harrier Amelia ‘disappeared’ in Bowland (here).

10 February 2022: An unnamed satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘disappeared’ in a grouse moor dominated area of the Peak District National Park (here). One year later it was revealed that the satellite tag/harness of this young male called ‘Anu’ had been deliberately cut off (see here).

12 April 2022: Hen harrier ‘Free’ (Tag ID 201121) ‘disappeared’ at a ‘confidential site’ in Cumbria (here).

May 2022: A male breeding hen harrier ‘disappeared’ from a National Trust-owned grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here).

May 2022: Another breeding male hen harrier ‘disappeared’ from a National Trust-owned grouse moor in the Peak District National Park (here).

14 May 2022: Hen harrier ‘Harvey’ (Tag ID 213844) ‘disappeared’ from a ‘confidential site’ in the North Pennines (here).

20 June 2022: Hen harrier chick #1 stamped to death in nest on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

20 June 2022: Hen harrier chick #2 stamped to death in nest on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

20 June 2022: Hen harrier chick #3 stamped to death in nest on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

20 June 2022: Hen harrier chick #4 stamped to death in nest on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (here).

10 October 2022: Hen harrier ‘Sia’ ‘disappeared’ near Hamsterley Forest in the North Pennines (here).

To be continued……..

Not one of these 77 incidents has resulted in an arrest, let alone a prosecution. I had thought that when we reached 30 dead/missing hen harriers then the authorities might pretend to be interested and at least say a few words about this national scandal. We’ve now reached SEVENTY SEVEN hen harriers, and still Govt ministers remain silent. They appear not to give a monkey’s. And yes, there are other things going on in the world, as always. That is not reason enough to ignore this blatant, brazen and systematic destruction of a supposedly protected species, being undertaken to satisfy the greed and bloodlust of a minority of society.