Wednesday 22 October 2014
The first truly cross-border joint initiative to secure a future for one of the UK's most threatened but spectacular birds of prey has been launched.
The European-funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project is an ambitious five-year programme of direct conservation action. It is focusing on seven Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for breeding hen harriers in southern and eastern Scotland and northern England,
Scotland holds the bulk of the UK breeding population, mostly on Orkney, the Hebrides and parts of the western mainland.
The hen harrier used to be widespread and familiar in the uplands of Britain. However, by 1900 persecution by game preservers and skin and egg collectors had pushed the bird of prey to extinction as a breeding species on the UK mainland.
Although it has clawed back some of its lost ground, its diet of birds and small mammals includes red grouse, thereby bringing the species into conflict with man, despite special legal protection.