Campaign against plan to remove chicks from their nests and rear them in captivity raises £25,000 in four days
Mon 16 Apr 2018 06.01 BST
A controversial plan to remove the chicks of endangered birds from their nests and rear them in captivity could be challenged in the high court after a crowdfunded campaign raised £25,000 in four days.
Wildlife campaigner and author Mark Avery is leading an application for a judicial review of the hen harrier “brood management” plan, in which chicks will be raised in captivity and released into the wild.
Conservationists blame the grouse moor industry for the virtual absence of hen harriers from uplands in England – there were four nests in 2016 – which government scientists calculated would naturally support more than 300 pairs of the bird.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plan, which is licensed by Natural England, the government’s wildlife watchdog, is designed to stop the illegal persecution of the legally protected bird of prey but critics say it instead rewards the owners of grouse moors. Removing the chicks from moorland prevents the parent birds from predating so many of the red grouse which generate a lucrative grouse-shooting business.
“It’s difficult to see how hen harriers benefit from this plan,” said Avery. “They are taken into captivity and released back into the places from which they are taken, where they will be killed in the way that they would have been if they hadn’t been taken into captivity.