As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Hen Harrier shot in County Wexford

Birdwatch Ireland call for a full investigation
November 2012. BirdWatch Ireland is calling for a full investigation after the recent shooting of a Hen Harrier in Co. Wexford, which is a rare and protected bird of prey in Ireland.

Hen Harriers in Ireland are under increasing pressure and the loss of even one individual is a cause of great concern. BirdWatch Ireland acknowledges the work that has been carried out in recent years by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to help ensure the conservation of our Hen Harrier population, however expressed concern in relation to the lack of strategy, resources and enforcement of wildlife crime in Ireland which has meant that incidents such as this have often passed without any formal investigation.

BirdWatch Ireland is calling on An Garda Siochána to launch an immediate investigation with a view to securing a prosecution in this case.

John Lusby, BirdWatch Ireland's Raptor Conservation Officer said "Ireland already has legislation in place to protect our birds of prey but for that to be effective we need to see rigorous enforcement of the law. At present Ireland's record of achieving prosecutions leaves something to be desired" John continued "Such illegal persecution of birds of prey, particularly when not addressed by the authorities, impacts on our countryside but also on our international reputation and in turn on the impression gained by potential visitors to our country expecting to see wildlife"

BirdWatch Ireland also re-iterated the appeal from NPWS for birdwatchers who know of winter roosts of Hen Harriers to be very cautious to whom they disclose the locations of these sites to. Alan Lauder, BirdWatch Ireland's CEO added "It is very unfortunate that cases like this mean that we have to keep the location of one of Ireland's most amazing natural spectacles secret - we would like to see a day when members of the public can experience for themselves the magnificent sight of these iconic birds of Ireland's uplands coming together in the winter months. "

Hen harrier
The Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a species of high conservation concern. Six Special Protected Areas in upland areas have been designated for Hen Harrier in Ireland.

Stable population
A national survey of Hen Harriers was carried out during 2010 with the aims of quantifying the size of the breeding population and examining changes in the national regional and SPA populations since the previous national survey in 2005. An estimated 128 to 172 breeding pairs were recorded within 69 10km squares.
The national population appears to be stable since the last national survey, however severe regional declines were recorded, the causes of which remain largely unknown, but are potentially influenced by factors such as habitat change, persecution, development (e.g. windfarms) and various disturbance factors (e.g. peat extraction).

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