Shooting organisations have joined forces to demand government action to save the hen harrier, which is on the brink of extinction in England, despite strong populations elsewhere. BASC, CLA, CA, GWCT, NGO and the Moorland Association issued a joint statement that they want to see more hen harriers nesting in England, and call for DEFRA to implement a plan for their recovery across England.
This year has seen a small increase in the harrier’s nesting success in England, with six out of 12 nesting attempts producing a total of 18 chicks. The organisations point out that grouse moor managers played a significant role in this year’s success by protecting nests – but they say more needs to be done. Moorland Association director Amanda Anderson called for the DEFRA-led Joint Recovery Plan to be published and implemented.
This plan was agreed more than a year ago, but has been blocked by the RSPB who refuse to countenance ‘brood management’ – temporarily moving young harriers – until grouse moor owners have ‘delivered’ some predetermined number of nesting birds. “The plan would see the growth of a sustainable population of hen harriers without jeopardising shooting or the environmental, social and economic benefits it delivers. “Gamekeepers are very much a part of this solution, providing habitat, prey and protection from predators.”