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Conservationists unite to draw attention to the plight of the Hen Harrier

8 August, 2014 - 10:03 -- World Land Trust
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Mark Avery in Hen Harrier Day T-shirt.

World Land Trust (WLT) Patron Chris Packham and Council Member Mark Avery will be raising awareness of the plight of the Hen Harrier at Derwent Dam in the Peak District National Park on Sunday 10 August 2014. 

The Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), a once common and widespread bird of prey in this country, has simply ‘gone missing’. It is a protected species in Great Britain, but despite its status it continues to suffer from loss of its lowland breeding habitat.

Because of lack of habitat, Hen Harriers have retreated to breed on upland moorland. There they have found themselves in conflict with gamekeepers employed on estates whose job it is to ensure that there are plenty of grouse to be targeted during the shooting season.

In 2013 no Hen Harriers managed to fledge in England and in 2014 just three pairs have bred, probably because they were given 24 hour protection. Their lives are still at risk.

Hen Harrier Day

Sunday 10 August is the first ever national Hen Harrier Day and peaceful demonstrations are taking place across the country just two days before the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ (12 August, the start of the four month long grouse shooting season).

“On the 10th of August – when the media’s attention is turning towards grouse moors and the start of the ‘Inglorious 12th’ – we intend to highlight the scandal of the widespread illegal persecution of these birds and celebrate one of the country’s most iconic birds of prey,” explains Mark.

There is no denying that Hen Harriers prey on Red Grouse, but as Mark Avery comments: “Numbers have declined markedly in recent years as intensification of grouse moors has stepped up. Peer-reviewed research suggests that good habitat remains, but there are 962-1,285 breeding pairs of Hen Harrier ‘missing’ from Scotland and 322-339 pairs ‘missing’ from England.”

Chris Packham adds: “Despite legal protection and our continued endeavours to educate and work in creative partnerships with the shooting fraternity, it [persecution] sadly continues and in some areas has even increased in prevalence. It's time to start shooting back and so I'm very pleased to be supporting 'Hen Harrier Day' and Mark Avery's event on the 10th of August and his petition to ban driven grouse shooting.”

World Land Trust works to save threatened species and their habitats and have invited Chris Packham and Mark Avery to take part in this year’s Controversial Conservation debate to be held at the Royal Society in London, on 2 September. The title of the debate is ‘Killing other people’s birds’ and it will focus on Hen Harriers and shooting birds on migration. Come and have your say.

More information

All places at the event at Derwent Water Dam in Derbyshire are now booked, but you can help Chris and Mark in their campaign in other ways:

  • Sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting
  • Join the Hen Harrier Day social media thunderclap at 10am on Sunday 10 August
  • Go along to one of the other events planned for Hen Harrier Day: North West Raptor Protection Group is organising a peaceful protest on the Green at Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland near Clitheroe, and Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) is organising an event in Northumberland (South Tyne Trail at Lambley) 
  • Print a Hen Harrier Day selfie poster (downloadable from BAWC website) and then send a selfie of you with the poster to BWAC’s selfie wall
  • Design your own T-shirt from a design free to download from Chris Packham's website or buy one online, then send a selfie of you wearing the T-shirt to BWAC’s selfie wall
  • Keep Hen Harriers in the public eye by joining Chris and Mark at WLT’s Controversial Conservation debate in London on 2 September 2014

To purchase Controversial Conservation tickets online please click here » 


Submitted by Colm Barry on

"... start shooting back ..." Probably a slip of tongue, but I don't believe that that kind of verbiage will endear the conservationists to the game keepers. Maybe similar violence-free win-win arrangements are in order in our "civilized" world that are being tried by conservationists in third world countries where one tries to get the local population interested in conservation because something is "in it for them"?!

Submitted by mark avery on

We're not the ones who have the guns so our bullets are merely rhetorical, but I'm sure that Chris means that we have to stand up and speak out because keeping quiet won't solve anything. There have been decades of talking which have produced nothing for hen harriers on grouse moors - it is now time to get angry, publicly, with those who break wildlife law. Come along on 2 September and hear about it for yourself...

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

It's always seemed to me a gross misuse of the word 'sports' as in 'field sports', when referring to the shooting of game birds.

In my view, something can only be a 'sport' when it is a contest between well matched and consenting parties wherein the outcome is unknown. And where there is a quotient of fairness involved.

I think it has to be faced - the game birds are unarmed. They haven't been consulted as to their consent. And the outcome seems to be pretty consistently in favour of the shooters, when the guns start firing.

Only when and until there is an equal and realistic prospect of as much carnage being visited on the gun-wielders as on the birds - would anyone be justified in calling it a 'sport'.

Maybe this is what Chris is alluding to, although I don't want to put words in his mouth.

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