Leading countryside organisations say focus on Hen Harriers to start species recovery

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, CLA, Countryside Alliance, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, and the Moorland Association all want to see more hen harriers nesting in England and are calling for Defra to publish a plan for their recovery across England.

Three events have been planned by bird enthusiasts in Derbyshire, Northumberland and Lancashire to raise awareness of the current low breeding success of the birds of prey in England.

Last year there were just two breeding attempts, both on or adjacent to moorland managed for red grouse, but no chicks fledged.

There have been three known successful nests this year fledging 11 chicks, again all on moorland managed for grouse shooting interests, but the organisations say that there need to be more.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, speaking for the group of organisations said: “All of the organisations welcome the spotlight on harriers and condemn wildlife crime. We need to build on this year’s successful breeding to springboard a wider recovery. There is a Defra-led Joint Recovery Plan we wish to see published. If implemented it would see the growth of a sustainable population of hen harriers without jeopardising driven grouse shooting, along with the environmental, social and economic benefits it delivers.”

Three parts of the recovery plan tackle any wildlife crime against the birds and three parts deal with the sustainable growth of the harrier population. One key element, nest management, is taken from tested conservation techniques in France. This would see hen harrier chicks in nests 10km from another nest reared in an aviary and released six weeks later in suitable habitat. This will help ensure harriers nest without impacting on ground nesting birds on which they prey, especially red grouse.

Mrs Anderson added: “The sooner the six-point holistic plan is published and implemented, the sooner people will be able to see hen harriers ‘skydancing’ in their nearest suitable habitat. Join the debate and sign the e-petition to see the Defra-led Joint Recovery Plan published (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67527).”

To understand more about the conflict between harriers and red grouse download your free guide here: http://www.gwct.org.uk/grouse-shooting-hen-harriers-guide/

For further information please contact Amanda Anderson, Director of The Moorland Association on: 0845 458 9786 or 07979 851123

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The Moorland Association’s members conserves 90% of the heather moorland habitat in England and Wales. Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and threatened globally – three quarters of what is left is found in Britain mainly because it is has continued to be been managed for red grouse. Since the Moorland Association was formed in 1985, it has achieved its aim to halt the loss of heather moorland smashing the Government’s 2010 conservation target by 170% from 200 -2010. It now seeks to return heather to all areas from which it has been lost south of the Scottish border in the last 100 years – some 250,000 acres. It helps policy formers and the general public understand the benefits of the activities of owners and managers and works closely with nature conservation bodies. Members of the Association are experts on related topics such as: bracken control, upland breeding birds, moorland wildfires, carbon lock up in peat, upland economics, grouse shooting, black grouse, designated landscapes, moorland management etc. and are available for interview and comment, as well as providing moorland locations for filming opportunities

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