RSPB pulls out of harrier plan
HERE is disappointment at the RSPB’S withdrawal, after just seven months, from a Govern-ment plan to increase hen-harrier numbers on grouse moors. The long-awaited Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan was published by Defra in January to aid breeding of the raptor, which is thought to have nested in only three places in England this year. This poor record, the RSPB claims, is due to illegal persecution. Certainly, there is conflict— one study showed that hen harriers can take up to a third of grouse chicks—but the plan was considered a significant step forward in uniting the shooting industry and conservationists ( Is this a glorious solution?, March 2).
However, Martin Harper, the RSPB’S conservation director, who is calling for grouse moors to be licensed, says: ‘People are still breaking the law and not enough is being done within the grouse-shooting community to effect change.’
Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Associ-
Tation suggests the RSPB has not given the project enough time: ‘The new upland-broodmanagement and lowland-reintroduction elements of that plan are still being scoped. Until they are implemented, we cannot judge their success.’
Adrian Blackmore of the Countryside Alliance adds that the plan will continue without the RSPB, with the Hawk & Owl Trust filling any gap in expertise. Charlotte Cooper