An epitaph for Hen Harriers

The news that no hen harriers are breeding in the Forest of Bowland comes as no surprise, whilst bringing profound sadness. For years certain well informed wildlife lovers have been warning of the imminent demise of this iconic moorland raptor. Subject to ongoing and incessant persecution from the shooting fraternity we are now almost at the point of declaring the hen harrier formally extinct as a breeding bird in England. There may be an odd breeding pair around elsewhere – but the lack of birds looks terminal. Despite these warnings, and to their utter discredit, the government and its paper pushing agencies, Natural England and Defra have been woefully lacking in positive action. Former RSPB Director of Conservation, Mark Avery tells us that 119 hen harriers have been radio tagged, mostly from the Forest if Bowland. Only one now appears to be still alive. The question is why – and of course we all know the answer! So why isn’t anything being done to tackle this problem head-on? Our leading bird conservation agency, the RSPB has itself failed to shout loudly enough from the rooftops about the plight of hen harriers in England. The Skydancer Project was launched in November 2011 in a blaze of hype and glory with an aim to ” inspire people to value these magnificent creatures, winning over hearts and minds for a world richer in wildlife where hen harriers and grouse moors can thrive alongside one another.” The problem here is that the gamekeepers and estate managers are not playing ball. The shooting lobby is a rich and powerful one, with allies in very high places indeed.  What is required is a much more assertive stance that leads to meaningful protection for the birds and an exposure of this national scandal to an English nation that is happy to vote a performing dog as winner of “Britain’s Got Talent” whilst one of its most beautiful birds is driven to extinction. Shame on us all.

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Published by

keithfitton

Left with the use of my left arm/hand only, after a serious motor cycle accident in 2005, I am learning to adapt to life with a brachial plexus injury and have developed a style of playing guitar using open tunings. I love drawing, painting and generally messing around in a fairly loose fashion. Can't describe myself as an artist, but perhaps a doodler with intent.

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