A number of countryside organisations, including The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, CLA, Countryside Alliance, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWTC), The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, and the Moorland Association have issued a statement calling on Defra to publish a plan for the recovery of hen harriers across England.
Three parts of the recovery plan tackle wildlife crime against the birds and three parts deal with the sustainable growth of the harrier population, although RSPB, a key partner, has yet to approve the plans.
Once a common bird of prey, hen harrier numbers have declined sharply in recent years due to major changes in land use, which have forced them to retreat to breed on upland moorland. This has lead to them being targetted illegally, with much of the blame for their persecution being atrributed to gamekeepers employed on shooting estates.
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 in 2014, fledging 11 chicks on moorland managed for grouse shooting interests.