RSPB pulls out of harrier plan

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

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

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