Teesdale has been selected for a project to save one of Britain’s most threatened birds of prey, the hen harrier.
The European-funded Hen Harrier Life Project is a five-year programme of conservation and community engagement.
The project was announced by the RSPB which blames persecution for the bird’s demise.
In historical times, the hen harrier was a widespread and familiar bird in the uplands of Britain. However by 1900, Victorian persecution, including that linked to driven-grouse shooting, had driven this bird of prey to extinction as a breeding species on the British mainland.
Although the bird has clawed back some of its lost ground, its diet of birds and small mammals, including red grouse, brings this raptor into conflict with man, despite special legal protection, the nature group claims.
The RSPB said this is especially true in parts of northern England, and southern, central and eastern Scotland where land management for driven grouse shooting is most intensive.
Between 2004 and 2010 there was an 18 per cent decline in the UK hen harrier population, according to a national survey.
Last year, hen harriers suffered their worst breeding season in England in decades failing to rear a single chick anywhere in England. While they fared slightly better with four nests in England in 2014, natural deaths and the sudden, unexplained disappearances of three satellite-tagged birds mean that only nine of the 16 chicks fledged are thought to still be alive.