Hen Harrier Action plan

After its release was withheld for an entire year, the Hen Harrier Action plan has finally been made public.

And the report has been universally backed by shooters, gamekeepers and conservationists alike.

The report had been ready since early last year but disputes over brood management – which sees eggs or broods moved to rearing pens away from moorland when harrier numbers increase above an agreed density – saw it shelved.

Now, its six recommendations for saving the species have finally been revealed. Along with brood management, they include satellite and CCTV monitoring, nest protection, the reintroduction of birds to suitable lowland areas and encouraging them not to feed on game birds.

Tim Russell, BASC director of conservation, said: “Everyone who shoots should welcome this plan to ensure the success of an iconic species. I congratulate those involved for producing it and offer BASC’s support for the difficult process of implementation. Working together will always do more for our birds.”

And Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “We believe the plan will go a long way to resolving one of the most divisive issues in upland conservation and help bring together all those who care deeply about the future of the uplands.

“We have always been clear that for any plan to be successful it must address the causes of illegal persecution, as well as tackling persecution itself.”

In 2015, there were six successful hen harrier nests in England with 18 fledglings, mostly on the Lancashire heather moorlands. The total number of nests did increase threefold in 2015, from four to twelve.

The total cost of implementing the plan to improve the bird’s fortunes sits somewhere around £1.5m.

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