Hen harrier (Credit Amy Lewis)
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is totally opposed to the illegal persecution of all wildlife including hen harriers.
The primary issue is that for a few weeks in late May and June, hen harriers prey on red grouse chicks that would otherwise later become the targets for driven grouse shoots. An additional issue for grouse shoots is that the presence of adult hen harriers and other birds of prey flying over a moor on a shoot day can spook the grouse and make it difficult to shoot. Driven grouse shooting brings in substantial income to grouse-moor owners and so to ensure there are plenty of red grouse to shoot, gamekeepers are employed to eradicate all predators – stoats, weasels, foxes and sadly in some cases protected wildlife such as hen harriers and peregrines. The result is that hen harriers have been almost wiped out as a breeding bird in England. In 2013, there were no successful breeding pairs of hen harriers in England. In 2014, there were reports of just three nesting attempts. The Trust is deeply concerned that this iconic bird, so evocative of our uplands, is on the brink of extinction.
The Trust has worked in partnership with upland landowners on a number of projects, most notably to help to restore almost 100 square miles of damaged peatland habitat over the past five years through the Yorkshire Peat Partnership. We recognise that sensitive moorland management for grouse can sometimes be beneficial for other wildlife, but are strongly opposed to the persecution of hen harriers and other protected wildlife.
What can you do?
Be vigilant for wildlife crime at all times especially in upland areas and report any suspicious behaviour to the wildlife crimes officer at the local police.