Friday 15 January 2016
PLANS have been unveiled to protect one of England’s rarest birds of prey and reintroduce it in parts of the south of England.
Although there are more than 600 pairs of hen harriers nesting in the UK, in England they are teetering on the brink of extinction, as a result conservationists say, of being targeted by gamekeepers because they prey on red grouse.
In an increasingly bitter debate, the shooting industry says grouse estates spend millions of pounds a year on conservation and wants to see a well-dispersed hen harrier population which co-exists with local businesses.
As well as monitoring hen harrier numbers with satellite tagging and protecting nests, the plan includes measures to provide other food for hen harriers and their young to stop them taking grouse chicks.
It also includes controversial plans to take young birds in areas with larger numbers of harriers and rear them in captivity before releasing them elsewhere.
The RSPB said the plan was not perfect and there were many hurdles. But it reflected “real potential for progress on one of the most deep-rooted conflicts in conservation.”