When we fly we DIE

For year’s campaigners, wildlife activists, environmentalists and conservationists have been pleading for the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers to stop. Their breeding success in England over the last 5 years has fluctuated from totally unacceptable to extinct back to unacceptable again with no sign of a real recovery in sight.

Hen Harrier Updates

INTRODUCTION

On August 10th 2014 the countries passionate wildlife and conservation community held its very first Hen Harrier Day, an event aiming to highlight the disgusting illegal persecution of one of the countries rarest breeding birds of prey, the Hen Harrier. The demise and near extinction of this species as a breeding bird in England is down to one very simple factor….where they choose to nest. The Hen Harrier is a bird of open moorland, feeding on small birds, small mammals and to the annoyance of grouse moor owners….. Red Grouse. However, these vast, wide open moorlands that these birds choose to nest on are also home to an environmentally flawed and elitist blood sport…Driven Grouse Shooting.

Hen Harriers are protected by law along with all other birds of prey in this country, yet they are routinely persecuted by gamekeepers alongside crows, foxes, stoats, weasels and other ‘pests’ for the management of the Driven Grouse Estates.

The campaign brought a whole host of concerned individuals, environmentalists, organisations and business’s together to help stop this illegal practice and put pressure on the grouse moor estates to bring their own houses into order. Cosmetics giants Lush were keen to help add a voice to this issue, and wanted to address the person who had the most influence in the country…the Queen. After linking up with the likes of Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Birders Against Wildlife Crime a polite and formal plea was written to Her Majesty asking for her help in stopping this illegal persecution. During the campaign 20,000 petition postcards were signed by Lush customers, who were perhaps originally unaware of this issue, but outraged a species could be on the brink of extinction in this country, and they wanted it stopped.

On October 2nd, 2015 the postcards were delivered to Buckingham Palace. We left the issue in Her Majesty’s capable hands.

postcards

2017 Update (So far)

With a busy 2016, which saw all kinds of strange behaviour taking place on Grouse Moors, it would be fascinating to see what would happen to the class of 2016. By the end of 2016 breeding season, he RSPB had sat-tagged 12 new Hen Harrier chicks from sites across the UK. To date, only 5 of those 12 birds are still alive. Startling with Elwood, which fledged in Banffshire in July 2016 but he sadly disappeared in the Monadhliaths in August 2016 when his tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting. Then there was Brian, he fledged in Perthshire in July 2016 but again, disappeared in the Cairngorms in September 2016 when his tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting…. a bit of a pattern emerging! Hermione fledged from Isle of Mull in Aug 2016, and she was found dead and it was confirmed she died of natural causes in October 2016. Donald fledged from MOD Coulport in July 2016, he died of unknown causes in Northern France in October 2016. Bonny, who was named as part of a nationwide competition organised by LUSH, fledged from Geltsdale in August 2016, he disappeared and is thought to have died of unknown causes on moorland to the east of Geltsdale in December 2016. And finally Carroll, she fledged from Northumberland in July 2016 and was found dead and it was concluded he too died of natural causes in Northumberland. However, it was later discovered after a post mortem had been carried out that she had previously survived being shot when fragments of lead were found on the x-ray. Below is an overview of other RSPB tagged Hen Harriers spanning back to 2012 which also provides information of their fate.

2012

Bowland Betty – fledged in 2011, found shot dead on a grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales in June 2012.

2014

Sky – fledged in July 2014, disappeared in Forest of Bowland in September 2014 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

Hope – fledged in July 2014, disappeared in Forest of Bowland in September 2014 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

Burt – sibling to Hope, fledged in July 2014, disappeared after tag showed signs of battery failure with transmissions slowly fading and eventually stopping in December 2014, near Exmoor

Highlander – sibling to Sky, fledged in July 2014, disappeared in April 2016 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting, but reappeared with non-functional tag in October 2016

Chance – fledged in 2014, disappeared in South Lanarkshire in May 2016 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

2015

Lad – fledged in July 2015, found dead with injuries “consistent with shooting” in September 2015, in the Cairngorms National Park

Nile – fledged in July 2015, died of unknown causes in Northern France in November 2015, body not recovered

Unnamed Bowland bird – found dead in the nest of natural causes, alongside siblings, just weeks after tagging in 2015

Hetty – fledged from Isle of Man in July 2015, found dead of natural causes in August 2015

Holly – fledged in West Scotland July 2015, died of unknown causes in Central Scotland in October 2015

So, not looking all that rosy! However, there has been some welcome news that the RSPB has fitted a record number of hen harrier chicks with satellite tags, across a wider geographical area than ever before in the UK this year, more than doubling the number it tagged in 2016.

By tracking the movements of these threatened birds of prey, the nature conservation organisation will be able to build up an even clearer picture of where hen harriers go and where they are most at risk.

This is the third consecutive year that the RSPB has tagged hen harriers as part of its EU- funded Hen Harrier LIFE Project. Birds have been tagged in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. However, poor weather conditions prevented any hen harriers in England being tagged this year. This dramatic increase in the number of tags deployed was made possible by cosmetic company LUSH, which raised funds through the sales of a specially created “Skydancer” bath bomb.

Conservationists are hoping that these newly tagged youngsters will fare better than last year’s cohort.  Out of the 12 young hen harriers tagged by the RSPB in 2016, only five are still alive. One of the birds, known as Carroll, was found dead of natural causes in Northumberland in January, but a post mortem later revealed lead pellets, indicating she had been shot at some earlier point in her life. Two of other the birds disappeared in suspicious circumstances when their tags suddenly ceased transmissions, while a further three were lost to unknown causes. All are presumed to have died, as it’s very rare for tags to fail for technical reasons.

Plus, let’s not forget, it’s not only RSPB-tagged hen harriers that have met with untimely demises over the past 12 months. In October 2016 Rowan, a hen harrier tagged by Natural England was discovered shot dead in Cumbria, while in May of this year a police investigation was launched after a hen harrier was allegedly witnessed being shot on Leadhills Estate, in South Lanarkshire.

Hen harriers are in serious trouble across the UK. The results of the recently published 2016 National Hen Harrier Survey revealed the number of breeding pairs has declined by more than a third (39%) in the past 12 years. The situation does not appear to have improved this breeding season. In England, there were just seven nesting attempts, only three of which successfully fledged chicks

The main reason hen harriers are continuing to decline is illegal killing and disturbance associated with the increasingly intensive management of driven grouse moors in northern England and parts of mainland Scotland. While the vast majority of suitable hen harrier habitat in England is managed for driven grouse shooting, not one of this year’s nesting attempts occurred on a grouse moor.

The RSPB hopes that satellite tagging hen harriers may help eventually pave the way for better protection for hen harriers through the licensing system for grouse moors. The Scottish Government recently set up an independent enquiry into gamebird shoot licensing after an independent scientific review of golden eagle satellite tracking data revealed that approximately a third of them are being illegally killed.

Blánaid Denman, Project Manager for the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, said: “By satellite tracking more hen harriers than ever before, we’ll gain a clearer picture of where these birds are spending their time and what exactly is happening to them. We’ve already discovered previously unknown nesting and winter roosting sites, as well as been able to pinpoint where natural deaths and illegal killings have occurred.

“It’s utterly heartbreaking to see these beautiful birds, year after year, disappear off the radar. Something needs to change. A system of grouse moor licensing would not only protect hen harriers but also tackle wider damaging grouse moor management practices, such as heather burning on deep peat and inappropriate drainage.

“For now though, I’ll be watching our newly fledged hen harriers, praying for their safety, and waiting to see what incredible journeys are about to unfold.”

Paul Morton from LUSH added: “We’re thrilled to hear that the money raised by our customers has allowed the RSPB to sat tag more Hen Harrier chicks than ever before. Monitoring as many youngsters as possible as they take their first flights across the length and breadth of the country is vital for their long-term protection. The message is loud and clear, a nation is watching and will have the welfare of each of these birds close to their hearts. The illegal persecution of Hen Harriers or any bird of prey will not be tolerated.”

From September, it will be possible to follow the travels of a selection of this year’s tagged hen harriers, together with last year’s surviving birds at www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife

Petition to ban Driven Grouse Shooting

Last year, Mark Avery’s e-petition calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting saw a whopping 123,077 sign up which in turn saw the topic up for debate in Parliament. The debate which took place in late 2016 saw a number of MP’s participate, although sadly there was a far stronger bias towards the number of MP’s who were pro rather than against grouse shooting and it was later decided by the government that the call to ban driven grouse shooting wouldn’t be upheld. Despite the outcome, the momentum behind the campaign saw the issue catapulted into the public domain and now more than ever people will be watching what happens to this year’s sat-tagged Hen Harrier chicks.

2016 UPDATE

Well well, WHAT a year! Since the last Hen Harrier day in August 2015 a whole host of revelations and fairly damaging occurrences have taken place within the Grouse Shooting industry, and of course what year wouldn’t be complete without….yup….more dead and missing Hen Harriers. This time in the shape of three young birds called Annie, Highlander and Chance.

Annie was a Hen Harrier that hatched in Scotland in the summer of 2014 and she spent the next year roaming around various parts of Scotland before her satellite tag went off the radar in an area of South Lanarkshire in March 2016. After an intensive search by the RSPB investigations team, her lead filled carcass was discovered on a Grouse Moor in April 2016.

annie-dead

Highlander was sister to Sky who we know went missing in September 2014, just a few weeks after fledging, but Highlander was a trooper who tried no nest THREE times in her first breeding season. The first nest failed because (surprise surprise) her male partner disappeared under mysterious circumstances whilst she was incubating eggs, and with starvation forcing her to abandon the eggs she upped and left. Her second nest failed because her partner couldn’t keep up the pace of feeding two different females at two different nests (a behaviour called polygamy) and the third nest failed sadly to due to the chicks being predated. Highlanders signal from her tag was strong and battery levels were good, however, on April 16th 2016 Highlanders tag suddenly and unaccountably stopped transmitting over a Moor County Durham.

Chance was also tagged as a chick in 2014 and the RSPB and Scottish Raptor Study Group spent the next 23 months monitoring her every move to make sure she came to no harm, but at the end of May 2016, just as Chance was gearing up for her first breeding season she disappeared on a Grouse Moor, despite her tag previously showing a strong signal and no battery failure.

What’s been happening to help this situation and how have the shooting lobby been behaving?

The Hen Harrier Action Plan was published in January 2016, the plan being a vision on how Hen Harriers can flourish in England once more. The plan is (was) a coalition project between the RSPB, Natural England, Moorland Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the National Gamekeepers Association. Each organisation was to take ‘the lead’ on certain aspects of the plan, in order to safe guard Hen Harriers on Grouse Moors. Aspects of the plan ranged from diversionary feeding (ridiculous), a southern reintroduction project (even more ridiculous) to potential brood management (off the scale)!

This is all very well if when the birds flew off into the wonderful English countryside the risk of illegal persecution wasn’t waiting for them on grouse moors, but the truth is that the risk will always be there if Driven Grouse shooting remain legal or unlicensed, so no matter how many plans you put together or who you buddy up with if the root cause isn’t confronted then the issue will continue!

So, let’s find out how the shooting lobby have been following ‘best practice’ (point 2 in the Hen Harrier Action Plan)…
In February 2016 a man was filmed on a National Trust Grouse Moor with a gun, having just put out a decoy Hen Harrier. Not quite best practice we feel?

decoy-screen

The reason (many people believe) this man put a decoy Hen Harrier out on a Grouse Moor was to attract in a real Hen Harrier, which would respond to seeing a rival and attack it. Of course, whilst the real bird is busy flogging a dead horse by attacking the fake bird, the guy with a gun sat not 30m away could quite easily take aim and fire…..no more (real) Hen Harrier!

Ok, not quite the best practice we had in mind, but there is a (mildly) triumphant chapter to this story. The estate this man took his fake Hen Harrier out for a walk on was owned by the National Trust who have since revoked the current tenancy agreement with the current tenant. This was based on the fact that “it had become clear that we (The National Trust) no longer have the confidence the tenant was committed to the delivery of our vision for the land and wildlife restoration” Well done National Trust, a very smart move indeed.

What other ‘best practice’ techniques have the shooting lobby been following so far this year then? A Mossdale Estate gamekeeper was filmed setting illegal pole traps on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales, a trap set to trap birds of prey by the feet when they land on the post/pole. Oh dear oh dear! We’re not sure gamekeepers and the shooting lobby fully understand what ‘best practice’ means. The young gamekeeper was arrested but only given a police caution despite hard evidence highlighting exactly what he was up to.

bird-shooter

2015 UPDATE

So, what has happened so far this year? Did the Queen or anyone else for that matter listen to the thousands calling for the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers to stop?

Unbelievably, it has been confirmed that FIVE Hen Harrier nests failed this summer in England (four in Bowland and one at Geltsdale) due to the unexplained disappearances of five healthy adult males. The females rely on males to provide them with food whilst on the nest, therefore if males go missing, females are forced to leave their nests in search of food which puts the eggs/chicks at risk from going cold and predation.

So, in less than a year after launching our national campaign, illustrating the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers in England, another SEVEN ‘go missing’!

There was, however, a very dimly glowing silver lining on a very dark thunderous cloud because for the 2015 breeding season, it has was announced by Natural England that Hen Harriers have had their best breeding season in five years with 7 PAIRS which have fledged an incredible 18 young. However, this is still a minute fraction of the numbers that should be breeding, and a number of chicks have been fitted with tags through the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ project, some of which you will be able to track on the project’s website over the next few months: http://www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife/

The few successful nests we have are thanks to nest protection and monitoring efforts which are carried out by RSPB and raptor group volunteers, but many more are needed to secure the hen harrier’s future in England. The cases of Sky and Hope show just how fragile a future these magnificent birds face and why we need to do everything we can to protect them from the threat of illegal persecution, to give them the best chance of survival.

This issue won’t go away. The people who care and are fighting for this to stop won’t go away and most importantly… the Hen Harriers will most certainly NOT be going away. The near extinction of the Hen Harrier as a breeding bird in England is an environmental travesty, not to mention highly illegal. We will continue to highlight this issue every step of the way, every piece of evidence that comes to light, every report of illegal persecution and every time a Hen Harrier goes missing

News Articles

Mark Avery Blog – http://markavery.info/2015/06/03/geltsdale-missing-male-hen-harrier/

BBC News 07/05/15 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-32624938

The Independent 06/06/15 – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disappearance-of-fifth-hen-harrier-fuels-concerns-bird-heading-towards-extinction-10302741.html

2014 UPDATE

At the time of writing it has been confirmed that this year there are only THREE active Hen Harrier nests in England! Yes… just three. With the birds future looking bleak once more and proof that the farcical Hen Harrier Action Plan isn’t working the RSPB have taken the bold and courageous step of stepping away from this plan and cutting their ties with the likes of The Moorland Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and The National Gamekeepers Association. For conservationists this is welcome news, as many thought the RSPB shouldn’t have supported this initiative in the first place, but regardless of your views what this shows is that the Grouse shooting industry is now walking on very thin ice as more and more people show their disgust of the current situation.

The RSPB are however continuing with their Hen Harrier Life+ project, sat tagging as many chicks as possible this season, in an effort to track the fate of as many birds as they can, some of which were sponsored by the Skydancer Bath Bomb Lush campaign which ran for 9 months across the UK. This campaign saw Lush customers raise a whopping £150,000 for Hen Harrier conservation, with the money being used to sat tag as many birds as possible over the coming years. This summer, Hen Harrier chicks across the UK will be fitted with sat tags some of which were paid for by Lush customers, so a huge THANK YOU has to be given to everyone that’s supported this campaign.

This coming autumn/winter period will be a hugely critical time for all Hen Harriers, regardless if they’re young and old or from Scotland, Wales, England or the Isle of Man. The issue of illegal persecution occurs no matter what set of factors are in place and all we can do is fight on and make the issue as public as possible and let you, the people watch the fate of these birds either drastically improve or unravel before your very eyes.

WHAT NEXT?

At the time of the campaign, it was thought there were only three pairs left in England when science says there should, in fact, be 300+ pairs. As it turned out there was one extra pair that no one knew about, so a grand total of four pairs successfully bred, raising 16 chicks in total.

Two of the four nests were on the Bowland Estate, a large area of open moorland in NE Lancashire, which sees high driven grouse shooting activity. Round-the-clock protection of the two nests at Bowland, ensured the successful rearing and fledging of 11 young Hen Harriers, the first from Bowland since 2011. The RSPB planned to ‘tag’ three of the chicks, a procedure that allows the RSPB to track and follow the bird’s movements once they leave the nest, helping them understand where these birds go in the winter, and where they choose to nest the following summer. A local school called Brennand’s Endowed Primary School in Slaidburn ‘adopted’ and named some of the chicks from the first nest and they named the three tagged Hen Harrier chicks Sky, Hope and Highlander.

Sky and Hope

When fledged, Sky and Hope explored the Bowland area widely. However, in September their tags suddenly stopped transmitting within days of each other, very close to one another. Their bodies were never recovered. It’s common knowledge that satellite technology is normally extremely reliable so Sky and Hope were either victims of natural predation or illegal persecution.

Maps of last known locations

screen-shot-2015-07-31-at-12-20-27

Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrushgill, in the Forest of Bowland.

Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland.

News Articles

 

Guardian 13/01/15 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/13/-sp-mystery-of-the-missing-hen-harriers

Rare Bird Alert 24/09/14 – http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/Hen_Harriers_disappear_without_trace.aspx?s_id=938182566

Mark Avery Blog – http://markavery.info/2014/09/24/hen-harriers-missing/

BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29354828

Highlander

When fledged she wandered to the West Pennine Moors, and then finally on into the Yorkshire Dales, where driven grouse shooting is extremely common. Over the winter, she remained faithful to the Pennine moors, but has been recorded travelling over 50 kilometres in less than two hours, on a brief visit to the area around Martin Mere on the Lancashire plain.

After the worrying, unexplained disappearances of Sky and Hope, it is good to know that Highlander is still out there holding her own in the uplands. The RSPB have been following her movements with interest over the 2015 breeding season. An update of her breeding status this year should be available soon.

On August 10th 2014 the countries passionate wildlife and conservation community held its very first Hen Harrier Day, an event aiming to highlight the disgusting illegal persecution of one of the countries rarest breeding birds of prey, the Hen Harrier. The demise and near extinction of this species as a breeding bird in England is down to one very simple factor….where they choose to nest. The Hen Harrier is a bird of open moorland, feeding on small birds, small mammals and to the annoyance of grouse moor owners….. Red Grouse. However, these vast, wide open moorlands that these birds choose to nest on are also home to an environmentally flawed and elitist blood sport…Driven Grouse Shooting.

Hen Harriers are protected by law along with all other birds of prey in this country, yet they are routinely persecuted by gamekeepers alongside crows, foxes, stoats, weasels and other ‘pests’ for the management of the Driven Grouse Estates.

The campaign brought a whole host of concerned individuals, environmentalists, organisations and business’s together to help stop this illegal practice and put pressure on the grouse moor estates to bring their own houses into order. Cosmetics giants Lush were keen to help add a voice to this issue, and wanted to address the person who had the most influence in the country…the Queen. After linking up with the likes of Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Birders Against Wildlife Crime a polite and formal plea was written to Her Majesty asking for her help in stopping this illegal persecution. During the campaign 20,000 petition postcards were signed by Lush customers, who were perhaps originally unaware of this issue, but outraged a species could be on the brink of extinction in this country, and they wanted it stopped.

On October 2nd, 2015 the postcards were delivered to Buckingham Palace. We left the issue in Her Majesty’s capable hands.

postcards

With a busy 2016, which saw all kinds of strange behaviour taking place on Grouse Moors, it would be fascinating to see what would happen to the class of 2016. By the end of 2016 breeding season, he RSPB had sat-tagged 12 new Hen Harrier chicks from sites across the UK. To date, only 5 of those 12 birds are still alive. Startling with Elwood, which fledged in Banffshire in July 2016 but he sadly disappeared in the Monadhliaths in August 2016 when his tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting. Then there was Brian, he fledged in Perthshire in July 2016 but again, disappeared in the Cairngorms in September 2016 when his tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting…. a bit of a pattern emerging! Hermione fledged from Isle of Mull in Aug 2016, and she was found dead and it was confirmed she died of natural causes in October 2016. Donald fledged from MOD Coulport in July 2016, he died of unknown causes in Northern France in October 2016. Bonny, who was named as part of a nationwide competition organised by LUSH, fledged from Geltsdale in August 2016, he disappeared and is thought to have died of unknown causes on moorland to the east of Geltsdale in December 2016. And finally Carroll, she fledged from Northumberland in July 2016 and was found dead and it was concluded he too died of natural causes in Northumberland. However, it was later discovered after a post mortem had been carried out that she had previously survived being shot when fragments of lead were found on the x-ray. Below is an overview of other RSPB tagged Hen Harriers spanning back to 2012 which also provides information of their fate.

2012

Bowland Betty – fledged in 2011, found shot dead on a grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales in June 2012.

2014

Sky – fledged in July 2014, disappeared in Forest of Bowland in September 2014 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

Hope – fledged in July 2014, disappeared in Forest of Bowland in September 2014 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

Burt – sibling to Hope, fledged in July 2014, disappeared after tag showed signs of battery failure with transmissions slowly fading and eventually stopping in December 2014, near Exmoor

Highlander – sibling to Sky, fledged in July 2014, disappeared in April 2016 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting, but reappeared with non-functional tag in October 2016

Chance – fledged in 2014, disappeared in South Lanarkshire in May 2016 when tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting

2015

Lad – fledged in July 2015, found dead with injuries “consistent with shooting” in September 2015, in the Cairngorms National Park

Nile – fledged in July 2015, died of unknown causes in Northern France in November 2015, body not recovered

Unnamed Bowland bird – found dead in the nest of natural causes, alongside siblings, just weeks after tagging in 2015

Hetty – fledged from Isle of Man in July 2015, found dead of natural causes in August 2015

Holly – fledged in West Scotland July 2015, died of unknown causes in Central Scotland in October 2015

So, not looking all that rosy! However, there has been some welcome news that the RSPB has fitted a record number of hen harrier chicks with satellite tags, across a wider geographical area than ever before in the UK this year, more than doubling the number it tagged in 2016.

By tracking the movements of these threatened birds of prey, the nature conservation organisation will be able to build up an even clearer picture of where hen harriers go and where they are most at risk.

This is the third consecutive year that the RSPB has tagged hen harriers as part of its EU- funded Hen Harrier LIFE Project. Birds have been tagged in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. However, poor weather conditions prevented any hen harriers in England being tagged this year. This dramatic increase in the number of tags deployed was made possible by cosmetic company LUSH, which raised funds through the sales of a specially created “Skydancer” bath bomb.

Conservationists are hoping that these newly tagged youngsters will fare better than last year’s cohort.  Out of the 12 young hen harriers tagged by the RSPB in 2016, only five are still alive. One of the birds, known as Carroll, was found dead of natural causes in Northumberland in January, but a post mortem later revealed lead pellets, indicating she had been shot at some earlier point in her life. Two of other the birds disappeared in suspicious circumstances when their tags suddenly ceased transmissions, while a further three were lost to unknown causes. All are presumed to have died, as it’s very rare for tags to fail for technical reasons.

Plus, let’s not forget, it’s not only RSPB-tagged hen harriers that have met with untimely demises over the past 12 months. In October 2016 Rowan, a hen harrier tagged by Natural England was discovered shot dead in Cumbria, while in May of this year a police investigation was launched after a hen harrier was allegedly witnessed being shot on Leadhills Estate, in South Lanarkshire.

Hen harriers are in serious trouble across the UK. The results of the recently published 2016 National Hen Harrier Survey revealed the number of breeding pairs has declined by more than a third (39%) in the past 12 years. The situation does not appear to have improved this breeding season. In England, there were just seven nesting attempts, only three of which successfully fledged chicks

The main reason hen harriers are continuing to decline is illegal killing and disturbance associated with the increasingly intensive management of driven grouse moors in northern England and parts of mainland Scotland. While the vast majority of suitable hen harrier habitat in England is managed for driven grouse shooting, not one of this year’s nesting attempts occurred on a grouse moor.

The RSPB hopes that satellite tagging hen harriers may help eventually pave the way for better protection for hen harriers through the licensing system for grouse moors. The Scottish Government recently set up an independent enquiry into gamebird shoot licensing after an independent scientific review of golden eagle satellite tracking data revealed that approximately a third of them are being illegally killed.

Blánaid Denman, Project Manager for the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, said: “By satellite tracking more hen harriers than ever before, we’ll gain a clearer picture of where these birds are spending their time and what exactly is happening to them. We’ve already discovered previously unknown nesting and winter roosting sites, as well as been able to pinpoint where natural deaths and illegal killings have occurred.

“It’s utterly heartbreaking to see these beautiful birds, year after year, disappear off the radar. Something needs to change. A system of grouse moor licensing would not only protect hen harriers but also tackle wider damaging grouse moor management practices, such as heather burning on deep peat and inappropriate drainage.

“For now though, I’ll be watching our newly fledged hen harriers, praying for their safety, and waiting to see what incredible journeys are about to unfold.”

Paul Morton from LUSH added: “We’re thrilled to hear that the money raised by our customers has allowed the RSPB to sat tag more Hen Harrier chicks than ever before. Monitoring as many youngsters as possible as they take their first flights across the length and breadth of the country is vital for their long-term protection. The message is loud and clear, a nation is watching and will have the welfare of each of these birds close to their hearts. The illegal persecution of Hen Harriers or any bird of prey will not be tolerated.”

From September, it will be possible to follow the travels of a selection of this year’s tagged hen harriers, together with last year’s surviving birds at www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife

Petition to ban Driven Grouse Shooting

Last year, Mark Avery’s e-petition calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting saw a whopping 123,077 sign up which in turn saw the topic up for debate in Parliament. The debate which took place in late 2016 saw a number of MP’s participate, although sadly there was a far stronger bias towards the number of MP’s who were pro rather than against grouse shooting and it was later decided by the government that the call to ban driven grouse shooting wouldn’t be upheld. Despite the outcome, the momentum behind the campaign saw the issue catapulted into the public domain and now more than ever people will be watching what happens to this year’s sat-tagged Hen Harrier chicks.

Well well, WHAT a year! Since the last Hen Harrier day in August 2015 a whole host of revelations and fairly damaging occurrences have taken place within the Grouse Shooting industry, and of course what year wouldn’t be complete without….yup….more dead and missing Hen Harriers. This time in the shape of three young birds called Annie, Highlander and Chance.

Annie was a Hen Harrier that hatched in Scotland in the summer of 2014 and she spent the next year roaming around various parts of Scotland before her satellite tag went off the radar in an area of South Lanarkshire in March 2016. After an intensive search by the RSPB investigations team, her lead filled carcass was discovered on a Grouse Moor in April 2016.

annie-dead

Highlander was sister to Sky who we know went missing in September 2014, just a few weeks after fledging, but Highlander was a trooper who tried no nest THREE times in her first breeding season. The first nest failed because (surprise surprise) her male partner disappeared under mysterious circumstances whilst she was incubating eggs, and with starvation forcing her to abandon the eggs she upped and left. Her second nest failed because her partner couldn’t keep up the pace of feeding two different females at two different nests (a behaviour called polygamy) and the third nest failed sadly to due to the chicks being predated. Highlanders signal from her tag was strong and battery levels were good, however, on April 16th 2016 Highlanders tag suddenly and unaccountably stopped transmitting over a Moor County Durham.

Chance was also tagged as a chick in 2014 and the RSPB and Scottish Raptor Study Group spent the next 23 months monitoring her every move to make sure she came to no harm, but at the end of May 2016, just as Chance was gearing up for her first breeding season she disappeared on a Grouse Moor, despite her tag previously showing a strong signal and no battery failure.

What’s been happening to help this situation and how have the shooting lobby been behaving?

The Hen Harrier Action Plan was published in January 2016, the plan being a vision on how Hen Harriers can flourish in England once more. The plan is (was) a coalition project between the RSPB, Natural England, Moorland Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the National Gamekeepers Association. Each organisation was to take ‘the lead’ on certain aspects of the plan, in order to safe guard Hen Harriers on Grouse Moors. Aspects of the plan ranged from diversionary feeding (ridiculous), a southern reintroduction project (even more ridiculous) to potential brood management (off the scale)!

This is all very well if when the birds flew off into the wonderful English countryside the risk of illegal persecution wasn’t waiting for them on grouse moors, but the truth is that the risk will always be there if Driven Grouse shooting remain legal or unlicensed, so no matter how many plans you put together or who you buddy up with if the root cause isn’t confronted then the issue will continue!

So, let’s find out how the shooting lobby have been following ‘best practice’ (point 2 in the Hen Harrier Action Plan)…
In February 2016 a man was filmed on a National Trust Grouse Moor with a gun, having just put out a decoy Hen Harrier. Not quite best practice we feel?

decoy-screen

The reason (many people believe) this man put a decoy Hen Harrier out on a Grouse Moor was to attract in a real Hen Harrier, which would respond to seeing a rival and attack it. Of course, whilst the real bird is busy flogging a dead horse by attacking the fake bird, the guy with a gun sat not 30m away could quite easily take aim and fire…..no more (real) Hen Harrier!

Ok, not quite the best practice we had in mind, but there is a (mildly) triumphant chapter to this story. The estate this man took his fake Hen Harrier out for a walk on was owned by the National Trust who have since revoked the current tenancy agreement with the current tenant. This was based on the fact that “it had become clear that we (The National Trust) no longer have the confidence the tenant was committed to the delivery of our vision for the land and wildlife restoration” Well done National Trust, a very smart move indeed.

What other ‘best practice’ techniques have the shooting lobby been following so far this year then? A Mossdale Estate gamekeeper was filmed setting illegal pole traps on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales, a trap set to trap birds of prey by the feet when they land on the post/pole. Oh dear oh dear! We’re not sure gamekeepers and the shooting lobby fully understand what ‘best practice’ means. The young gamekeeper was arrested but only given a police caution despite hard evidence highlighting exactly what he was up to.

bird-shooter

So, what has happened so far this year? Did the Queen or anyone else for that matter listen to the thousands calling for the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers to stop?

Unbelievably, it has been confirmed that FIVE Hen Harrier nests failed this summer in England (four in Bowland and one at Geltsdale) due to the unexplained disappearances of five healthy adult males. The females rely on males to provide them with food whilst on the nest, therefore if males go missing, females are forced to leave their nests in search of food which puts the eggs/chicks at risk from going cold and predation.

So, in less than a year after launching our national campaign, illustrating the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers in England, another SEVEN ‘go missing’!

There was, however, a very dimly glowing silver lining on a very dark thunderous cloud because for the 2015 breeding season, it has was announced by Natural England that Hen Harriers have had their best breeding season in five years with 7 PAIRS which have fledged an incredible 18 young. However, this is still a minute fraction of the numbers that should be breeding, and a number of chicks have been fitted with tags through the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ project, some of which you will be able to track on the project’s website over the next few months: http://www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife/

The few successful nests we have are thanks to nest protection and monitoring efforts which are carried out by RSPB and raptor group volunteers, but many more are needed to secure the hen harrier’s future in England. The cases of Sky and Hope show just how fragile a future these magnificent birds face and why we need to do everything we can to protect them from the threat of illegal persecution, to give them the best chance of survival.

This issue won’t go away. The people who care and are fighting for this to stop won’t go away and most importantly… the Hen Harriers will most certainly NOT be going away. The near extinction of the Hen Harrier as a breeding bird in England is an environmental travesty, not to mention highly illegal. We will continue to highlight this issue every step of the way, every piece of evidence that comes to light, every report of illegal persecution and every time a Hen Harrier goes missing

News Articles

Mark Avery Blog – http://markavery.info/2015/06/03/geltsdale-missing-male-hen-harrier/

BBC News 07/05/15 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-32624938

The Independent 06/06/15 – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disappearance-of-fifth-hen-harrier-fuels-concerns-bird-heading-towards-extinction-10302741.html

At the time of writing it has been confirmed that this year there are only THREE active Hen Harrier nests in England! Yes… just three. With the birds future looking bleak once more and proof that the farcical Hen Harrier Action Plan isn’t working the RSPB have taken the bold and courageous step of stepping away from this plan and cutting their ties with the likes of The Moorland Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and The National Gamekeepers Association. For conservationists this is welcome news, as many thought the RSPB shouldn’t have supported this initiative in the first place, but regardless of your views what this shows is that the Grouse shooting industry is now walking on very thin ice as more and more people show their disgust of the current situation.

The RSPB are however continuing with their Hen Harrier Life+ project, sat tagging as many chicks as possible this season, in an effort to track the fate of as many birds as they can, some of which were sponsored by the Skydancer Bath Bomb Lush campaign which ran for 9 months across the UK. This campaign saw Lush customers raise a whopping £150,000 for Hen Harrier conservation, with the money being used to sat tag as many birds as possible over the coming years. This summer, Hen Harrier chicks across the UK will be fitted with sat tags some of which were paid for by Lush customers, so a huge THANK YOU has to be given to everyone that’s supported this campaign.

This coming autumn/winter period will be a hugely critical time for all Hen Harriers, regardless if they’re young and old or from Scotland, Wales, England or the Isle of Man. The issue of illegal persecution occurs no matter what set of factors are in place and all we can do is fight on and make the issue as public as possible and let you, the people watch the fate of these birds either drastically improve or unravel before your very eyes.

At the time of the campaign, it was thought there were only three pairs left in England when science says there should, in fact, be 300+ pairs. As it turned out there was one extra pair that no one knew about, so a grand total of four pairs successfully bred, raising 16 chicks in total.

Two of the four nests were on the Bowland Estate, a large area of open moorland in NE Lancashire, which sees high driven grouse shooting activity. Round-the-clock protection of the two nests at Bowland, ensured the successful rearing and fledging of 11 young Hen Harriers, the first from Bowland since 2011. The RSPB planned to ‘tag’ three of the chicks, a procedure that allows the RSPB to track and follow the bird’s movements once they leave the nest, helping them understand where these birds go in the winter, and where they choose to nest the following summer. A local school called Brennand’s Endowed Primary School in Slaidburn ‘adopted’ and named some of the chicks from the first nest and they named the three tagged Hen Harrier chicks Sky, Hope and Highlander.

Sky and Hope

When fledged, Sky and Hope explored the Bowland area widely. However, in September their tags suddenly stopped transmitting within days of each other, very close to one another. Their bodies were never recovered. It’s common knowledge that satellite technology is normally extremely reliable so Sky and Hope were either victims of natural predation or illegal persecution.

Maps of last known locations

screen-shot-2015-07-31-at-12-20-27

Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrushgill, in the Forest of Bowland.

Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland.

News Articles

 

Guardian 13/01/15 – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/13/-sp-mystery-of-the-missing-hen-harriers

Rare Bird Alert 24/09/14 – http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/Hen_Harriers_disappear_without_trace.aspx?s_id=938182566

Mark Avery Blog – http://markavery.info/2014/09/24/hen-harriers-missing/

BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29354828

Highlander

When fledged she wandered to the West Pennine Moors, and then finally on into the Yorkshire Dales, where driven grouse shooting is extremely common. Over the winter, she remained faithful to the Pennine moors, but has been recorded travelling over 50 kilometres in less than two hours, on a brief visit to the area around Martin Mere on the Lancashire plain.

After the worrying, unexplained disappearances of Sky and Hope, it is good to know that Highlander is still out there holding her own in the uplands. The RSPB have been following her movements with interest over the 2015 breeding season. An update of her breeding status this year should be available soon.

WHO WAS THIS WEBSITE CREATED BY AND WHAT IS IT FOR?

This website is an update of the the Hen Harrier campaign that was launched in 2014, created and developed by a host of majorly concerned naturalists, campaign groups, environmental bloggers, researchers and broadcasters wanting to provide you, the public with accurate and definitive information about the near extinction of Hen Harriers in England and the ILLEGAL persecution they suffer. The massacre of these birds has been going on long enough, so we are asking for your help and your voice to enable us to stop these atrocities once and for all. We would like to thank you, the public for taking the time to view this website. We hope you find in useful.

Hen Harrier FAQs

Q1. What is a Hen Harrier? Birds of Prey and the Law.

Currently one of the UK’s most threatened birds of prey, the hen harrier is a species that should be iconic of our upland landscape. A little smaller than a buzzard with about a metre wingspan, the male hen harrier is unmistakable with his pale ash-grey plumage and black wingtips. The female, by contrast, is mottled-brown in colour, camouflaged for nesting on the ground, with an obvious white rump and banded tail, giving her the nickname “ringtail”. Amazing aerial acrobats, male hen harriers pass food to their partners on the wing, and their courtship display known as “skydancing” is one of the Britain’s best wildlife spectacles.

Traditionally a bird of open, scrubby landscapes, hen harriers in the UK nest almost exclusively on upland moorland. Outside of the breeding season, hen harriers travel widely across the UK, often forming communal winter roosts at traditional lowland and coastal sites where it’s easier to find food. They have the highest level of legal protection available, listed as a schedule 1 species under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and internationally under the EC Birds Directive. This means that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb, interfere with, or otherwise harm (and harass anytime of year in Scotland), the adult birds, their nests, eggs or chicks.

Q2. Current breeding status and reason for their demise. Other birds of prey affected.

The last national hen harrier survey in 2010 recorded 658 breeding pairs of hen harriers, an 18% decline since the previous survey in 2004, with 500 pairs in Scotland, 50 in Wales, 50 in Northern Ireland, 35 on the Isle of Man and 12 in England. Since then, hen harrier numbers have continued to fall, with the heavily persecuted population in England failing to produce a single hen harrier chick in 2013 for the first time since the 1960’s and three known nests in 2014.

The problem is that alongside their main diet of meadow pipits and voles, hen harriers also eat red grouse, a popular game bird for which most of their moorland nesting habitat is managed. This has led to an intolerance of these birds by some gamekeepers and moorland owners who attempt to discourage the birds from nesting by removing the long heather they like to nest in, and illegally disturbing or killing the adult birds or destroying their nests.

This problem is most evident in England and areas of Eastern and Southern Scotland where intensive moorland management for driven grouse shooting is most prevalent. This is supported by an independent government report published in 2011, which concluded that ongoing illegal persecution is the main factor preventing hen harrier recovery in England. This same report estimated that there is enough habitat for over 320 pairs of hen harriers in England. Currently, there are three – less than 1% of what there should be.

Catching these criminals in the act is exceedingly difficult and prosecutions are few and far between. However, the evidence is not. In July 2012, a young satellite-tagged hen harrier nicknamed “Bowland Betty” was found dead on the edge of a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales. Four months later, another hen harrier was found killed on a moor in Aberdeenshire. In May this year, wildlife experts were forced to take two hen harrier chicks into captivity to be hand reared when after police reported their mother had been “illegally killed” in Ayrshire. Hen harriers are doing well in Northwest Scotland and Wales where grouse shooting is either absent or much less intensive, but the wide ranging nature of these birds means that anything affecting hen harriers in one part of their range impacts the population as a whole. And it’s not just hen harriers that are affected by illegal persecution golden eagles, peregrines, red kites and goshawks all do very badly in driven grouse moor areas.

Currently one of the UK’s most threatened birds of prey, the hen harrier is a species that should be iconic of our upland landscape. A little smaller than a buzzard with about a metre wingspan, the male hen harrier is unmistakable with his pale ash-grey plumage and black wingtips. The female, by contrast, is mottled-brown in colour, camouflaged for nesting on the ground, with an obvious white rump and banded tail, giving her the nickname “ringtail”. Amazing aerial acrobats, male hen harriers pass food to their partners on the wing, and their courtship display known as “skydancing” is one of the Britain’s best wildlife spectacles.

Traditionally a bird of open, scrubby landscapes, hen harriers in the UK nest almost exclusively on upland moorland. Outside of the breeding season, hen harriers travel widely across the UK, often forming communal winter roosts at traditional lowland and coastal sites where it’s easier to find food. They have the highest level of legal protection available, listed as a schedule 1 species under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and internationally under the EC Birds Directive. This means that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb, interfere with, or otherwise harm (and harass anytime of year in Scotland), the adult birds, their nests, eggs or chicks.

The last national hen harrier survey in 2010 recorded 658 breeding pairs of hen harriers, an 18% decline since the previous survey in 2004, with 500 pairs in Scotland, 50 in Wales, 50 in Northern Ireland, 35 on the Isle of Man and 12 in England. Since then, hen harrier numbers have continued to fall, with the heavily persecuted population in England failing to produce a single hen harrier chick in 2013 for the first time since the 1960’s and three known nests in 2014.

The problem is that alongside their main diet of meadow pipits and voles, hen harriers also eat red grouse, a popular game bird for which most of their moorland nesting habitat is managed. This has led to an intolerance of these birds by some gamekeepers and moorland owners who attempt to discourage the birds from nesting by removing the long heather they like to nest in, and illegally disturbing or killing the adult birds or destroying their nests.

This problem is most evident in England and areas of Eastern and Southern Scotland where intensive moorland management for driven grouse shooting is most prevalent. This is supported by an independent government report published in 2011, which concluded that ongoing illegal persecution is the main factor preventing hen harrier recovery in England. This same report estimated that there is enough habitat for over 320 pairs of hen harriers in England. Currently, there are three – less than 1% of what there should be.

Catching these criminals in the act is exceedingly difficult and prosecutions are few and far between. However, the evidence is not. In July 2012, a young satellite-tagged hen harrier nicknamed “Bowland Betty” was found dead on the edge of a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales. Four months later, another hen harrier was found killed on a moor in Aberdeenshire. In May this year, wildlife experts were forced to take two hen harrier chicks into captivity to be hand reared when after police reported their mother had been “illegally killed” in Ayrshire. Hen harriers are doing well in Northwest Scotland and Wales where grouse shooting is either absent or much less intensive, but the wide ranging nature of these birds means that anything affecting hen harriers in one part of their range impacts the population as a whole. And it’s not just hen harriers that are affected by illegal persecution golden eagles, peregrines, red kites and goshawks all do very badly in driven grouse moor areas.

CLICK HERE TO TRACK THE BIRDS

Driven Grouse Moor FAQs

Q1. What is a Driven Grouse Moor?

Driven shooting, first popularised by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s, describes a type of grouse shooting whereby a team of people called “beaters” walk in a line across the moor, beating the heather and driving the birds towards the waiting guns, who are positioned in hides or “butts” to shoot the grouse as they fly overhead. This is distinct from “walked-up” shooting in which the guns simply walk over the moor shooting any grouse they happen to flush.

Grouse shooting takes place between 12th August and 10th December each year and the moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter and unlike pheasants; they cannot be bred in captivity. Instead, gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old stands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out legal, (and as noted above, illegal) activity, intensive control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels, and the supply of medicated grit to treat the grouse for intestinal parasites and diseases, which result from the birds being kept in unnaturally high densities.

The vast majority of moors in England are managed specifically for driven grouse shooting, though some also do walked-up shooting. In Scotland, some grouse moors also offer other sporting activities such as deer stalking.

Q2. Why are they bad news?

Driven shooting relies on large number of red grouse to be viable, requiring a surplus from the breeding population that can be shot. Anywhere between 100-1000 brace (pairs) of grouse being shot in a single day, compared with around 5-15 brace on a good walked-up shoot. In an effort to produce larger and larger “bags” of grouse, some managers view the loss of even one or two grouse to natural predation as simply unacceptable. The stakes are high, with the values of land and shooting rights linked to these “grouse bag” numbers. Consequently, management of many of these moors has become unsustainably intensive and predator control near absolute.

Q3. What other wildlife is affected?

Hen harriers are one of a number of large bird of prey species being illegally killed, with many records of illegally killed golden eagles, peregrine falcons, red kites, goshawk and buzzards associated with managed grouse moors.

It is not just birds that suffer. Some of our rarest UK mammals, such as the wildcat and pine martin are sometimes killed by traps set for other predators. There is also widespread killing of Scottish mountain hares, which are blamed for carrying ticks which can transmit a disease to grouse, despite a lack of evidence that culling hares can boost red grouse numbers. This is also a problem for golden eagles, as hares form a significant part of their natural diet.

Management of driven grouse moors involves intensive burning to provide new heather for grouse. This damages fragile protected habitats and results in the erosion of peat that has taken thousands of years to accumulate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and watercourses.

Burning in peatland catchments also impacts on invertebrate life in streams.

Driven shooting, first popularised by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s, describes a type of grouse shooting whereby a team of people called “beaters” walk in a line across the moor, beating the heather and driving the birds towards the waiting guns, who are positioned in hides or “butts” to shoot the grouse as they fly overhead. This is distinct from “walked-up” shooting in which the guns simply walk over the moor shooting any grouse they happen to flush.

Grouse shooting takes place between 12th August and 10th December each year and the moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter and unlike pheasants; they cannot be bred in captivity. Instead, gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old stands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out legal, (and as noted above, illegal) activity, intensive control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels, and the supply of medicated grit to treat the grouse for intestinal parasites and diseases, which result from the birds being kept in unnaturally high densities.

The vast majority of moors in England are managed specifically for driven grouse shooting, though some also do walked-up shooting. In Scotland, some grouse moors also offer other sporting activities such as deer stalking.

Driven shooting relies on large number of red grouse to be viable, requiring a surplus from the breeding population that can be shot. Anywhere between 100-1000 brace (pairs) of grouse being shot in a single day, compared with around 5-15 brace on a good walked-up shoot. In an effort to produce larger and larger “bags” of grouse, some managers view the loss of even one or two grouse to natural predation as simply unacceptable. The stakes are high, with the values of land and shooting rights linked to these “grouse bag” numbers. Consequently, management of many of these moors has become unsustainably intensive and predator control near absolute.

Hen harriers are one of a number of large bird of prey species being illegally killed, with many records of illegally killed golden eagles, peregrine falcons, red kites, goshawk and buzzards associated with managed grouse moors.

It is not just birds that suffer. Some of our rarest UK mammals, such as the wildcat and pine martin are sometimes killed by traps set for other predators. There is also widespread killing of Scottish mountain hares, which are blamed for carrying ticks which can transmit a disease to grouse, despite a lack of evidence that culling hares can boost red grouse numbers. This is also a problem for golden eagles, as hares form a significant part of their natural diet.

Management of driven grouse moors involves intensive burning to provide new heather for grouse. This damages fragile protected habitats and results in the erosion of peat that has taken thousands of years to accumulate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and watercourses.

Burning in peatland catchments also impacts on invertebrate life in streams.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Boycott the sale of Red Grouse

Lush – Skydancer Bath Bomb Update

In August 2015 Lush Cosmetics here in the UK launched a new product in their stores called Skydancer – Far From The Madding Guns with 100% of the proceeds of this lemon and liquorish bath bomb was going to the RSPB for Hen Harrier conservation and the tagging of Hen Harrier chicks. Lush was already on board with this issue when in 2014 they launched their ‘Postcard to the Queen’ campaign which saw 20,000 of their customers sign postcards that had a polite plea to the Queen calling for the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers to stop, whilst introducing their customers to the last six breeding Hen Harriers in England via window displays in all their stores. The Skydancer bath bomb was on sale for 9 months and over that time period raised an incredible £150,000! An update from the RSPB states that out of 14 chicks they’re tagging in 2016, 6 are Lush funded tags. This still leaves a nice amount in the pot ready for next year where hopefully we’ll see an increase in the number of tagged chicks across the whole of the UK.

Lush bath bomb Skydancer

Attend a Hen Harrier Day event

2014 saw the first ever Hen Harrier day take place up in the Peak District, however, in 2017 an amazing 10 events are taking place right across the country.

These are a great way to show your support so for full details of ALL events CLICK HERE

To report a hen harrier sighting in England, please email henharriers@rspb.org.uk or phone the RSPB hotline on 0845 460 0121 (calls charged at local rates).

To report a hen harrier sighting in Scotland, please email henharrier@snh.gov.uk.

PODCASTS

► Chris Packham
► Bob Elliot, Head of RSPB Investigations
► Mark Avery
► Blanaid Denman
► Andre Farrar
► Terry Pickford

An interview with conservationist, broadcaster, and President of the Hawk and Owl Trust, Chris Packham, on raptors, illegal persecution, and why he fully supports Hen Harrier Day.

A conversation with Bob Elliot, RSPB Head of Investigations, on illegal persecution of raptors and problems of wildlife crime committed by the shooting industry.

A conversation with Mark Avery – conservationist, petitioner, blogger, writer…in fact a man of so many parts that we began the conversation by asking him to describe himself to give a frame of reference to those of us finding it hard keeping up…Mark then goes on to talking about Hen Harriers and the crimes committed against them, his epetition to ban driven grouse shooting, explains why he thinks driven grouse shooting is the worst of all British field sports, and finally takes the proffered opportunity to plug his new book on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, ‘A Message from Martha’.

A conversation with Blanaid Denman, RSPB Skydancer Project Officer, on what she loves about Hen Harriers and the education work the project does.

A conversation with Andre Farrar RSPB Campaigns Manager about the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers, the RSPB’s calls for licencing of grouse moors, and Hen Harrier Day 2014.

A conversation with Terry Pickford, a co-founder of the North West Raptor Protection Group and veteran of the fight to halt the illegal persecution of birds of prey in Britain.

Finely crafted by the Upperdog pack