Hen harrier management plan is working

There’s been an upturn in the fortunes of hen harriers – they’ve had their most successful breeding season in England for over a decade.

Land managed for shooting has been key to this growth. Of this year’s 34 hen harrier chicks, 21 fledged from land managed for grouse shooting. Last year there were no nests on grouse moors and only three successful nests across all of England that raised just 10 chicks.

Hen harriers are notoriously poor survivors in the first year with natural mortality affecting about seven out of every ten birds. Trials of a revolutionary harrier management licence to get more harriers on English moors are clearly having a positive effect this year, even as they face challenges from anti-shooting activists.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “We are delighted that 34 harriers have fledged from the English uplands with a much improved range. Grouse moor managers and their gamekeepers are to be congratulated for their involvement in eight of the breeding attempts resulting in five successful nests on moorland managed for red grouse across Lancashire, Derbyshire and North Yorkshire. Yet, certain organisations and individuals are intent on doing whatever it takes, including wasting court time and taxpayers’ money, to prevent a successful outcome”.

Andrew Gilruth, Director of Communications at the GWCT, said: “The RSPB must be congratulated for insisting that Defra produced a hen harrier recovery plan that had the full support of the grouse moors. For decades nest protection was never enough, now we are seeing the success of working with landowners to resolve wildlife conflicts. Activists objecting to these government plans should focus on what is best for the harrier.”

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