Scheme to protect hen harriers in England a waste of money, says charity | Natural England

Spread the love

A £900,000 authorities scheme to “meddle” with nests of hen harriers is a waste of cash and rewards those that kill them, a wildlife marketing campaign group has mentioned.

The claims are contained in a report produced by Wild Justice and launched to coincide with the Superb Twelfth, the official begin of the grouse taking pictures season, on Saturday.

Grouse moor gamekeepers have traditionally killed hen harriers illegally as a result of they eat smaller birds, together with grouse. For the reason that begin of a authorities brood administration scheme in 2018, 98 hen harriers have been confirmed as missingin suspicious circumstances or are identified to have been illegally killed within the UK, lots of them on or near English grouse moors.

With a purpose to fight the issue of the birds, that are endangered within the UK, frequently going lacking over moors, Pure England started a scheme which entails taking the eggs or chicks of some hen harriers nesting on grouse moors into captivity, rearing them to fledging age and releasing them again into the wild within the uplands of northern England.

They are saying th follow reduces the density of energetic hen harrier nests on grouse moors and is assumed to scale back predation strain on pink grouse in the course of the breeding season, so there’s much less incentive for harriers to be persecuted. Nests containing younger have previously been stamped on, and moms killed leaving the chicks to starve. The federal government is working with grouse moor house owners to discourage this behaviour.

A male hen harrier
A male hen harrier. {Photograph}: WILDLIFE GmbH/Alamy

The Wild Justice report, nonetheless, states that after a five-year trial of hen harrier brood administration, Pure England has not launched knowledge on whether or not total survival charges have modified. It says: “The important thing query … just isn’t whether or not the very low survival charges of hen harriers have elevated however whether or not they have elevated sufficiently to safe a sustainable and lasting enhance within the hen harrier breeding inhabitants. This requires some type of a inhabitants mannequin to exist, and be populated with knowledge. NE is much from that place and it’s unclear to us {that a} additional 5 years of brood meddling will present these solutions.”

Wild Justice, which is led by the previous RSPB chief Mark Avery, the raptor skilled Dr Ruth Tingay and the TV presenter Chris Packham, mentioned: “It’s a waste of cash that could possibly be higher spent on different features of hen harrier conservation or elsewhere in nature conservation – the preliminary estimate for the five-year trial was £875,000. It’s a delaying tactic to place off simpler and stringent measures towards criminality – all hen harriers want is the unlawful killing to cease.” It described the scheme as “a reward for previous crimes towards hen harriers”.

The campaigners argue as a substitute that extra stringent measures needs to be put in place to prosecute those that illegally kill birds of prey.

Pure England argues that its work has been helpful. Hen harrier numbers have elevated in England within the final couple of years, and greater than 100 fledged in 2022, the primary time in over a century that numbers had reached such a degree. “We stand by our work to guard hen harriers and stay dedicated to pushing ahead the restoration of this iconic species,” it mentioned. “We’ll proceed to direct sources in direction of monitoring and conservation administration, whereas additionally working with companions together with the police to deal with persecution.

skip previous e-newsletter promotion

“We’re inspired by the chances demonstrated by the current enhance in nesting hen harrier numbers and the brood administration trial has been prolonged to additional perceive the impression this has had on their conservation.”

The RSPB, nonetheless, disagrees with Pure England’s scheme. It withdrew its assist in 2016, and later launched a failed authorized problem towards Pure England to attempt to cease it. It mentioned on the time of the case: “We’ve made our objections on scientific and moral grounds to brood administration clear for a few years. We consider step one in hen harrier restoration needs to be the top of unlawful persecution because the proof is evident that that is the principle cause driving the decline of this chicken of prey.

“A not too long ago printed examine of satellite-tagged hen harriers by Pure England revealed that 72% of those birds have been both confirmed or thought-about very prone to have been illegally killed. Moreover, it discovered that hen harriers have been ten occasions extra prone to be illegally killed on a grouse moor than wherever else.”

Wild Justice mentioned in its report: “While a number of grouse taking pictures estates get what they need, the elimination of hen harriers by way of a state-licensed brood meddling venture, others stick with the standard methodology of criminality. Hen harrier persecution remains to be rife on grouse moors and no quantity of brood meddling rhetoric can cowl that up.”

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top