Three nesting male hen harriers have vanished in Lancashire in unexplained circumstances and Lancashire Police and the RSPB are appealing for any information that could uncover the fate of these rare upland birds of prey. The RSPB is also putting up a £10,000 reward for any information which leads to a conviction.
The first of the birds disappeared from its nest on the United Utilities Bowland Estate about a month ago and a further two males on active nests have not been seen since last 30 April.
In the case of the first nest, a young male arrived almost immediately and took the place of the vanished bird, thereby securing the safety of the eggs. The other two nests were not so fortunate; in the absence of males to provide them with food, the females were forced to abandon their eggs, resulting in the failure of both nests.
Hen harriers are England’s most threatened breeding bird of prey with only four successful nests in the whole country last year, two of which were on the United Utilities Bowland Estate.
With the number of breeding birds so low, the failure of the two nests will have a serious impact on the hen harrier’s future in England.
The disappearance of the birds leaves just one active nest remaining in the Bowland Estate, putting the future of hen harriers in England even further in jeopardy.