Defra publishes Hen Harrier Action Plan
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has published the long-awaited Hen Harrier Action Plan, which aims to enforce and coordinate a consistent and strategic approach to the conservation of these birds.
Developed by Defra in conjunction with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Moorland Association, RSPB and National Parks UK, it is hoped that the plan will help the hen harrier to establish a self-sustaining and welldispersed breeding population in both upland and lowland England.
The six proposals outlined in the plan are as follows: to monitor the numbers of hen harriers in the UK and England via satellite tagging and tracking; to share best practice with land managers and gamekeepers, encouraging provision of food for the birds of prey; to work with the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group to analyse intelligence on persecution and deliver more effective enforcement and deterrence measures; to monitor/protect nests and winter roosts from disturbance and damage; to work with landowners to reintroduce the birds to suitable areas in the south of England; and to scope out the possibility of trialling brood management.
The Countryside Alliance commended the advancement, stating: “We believe the plan will go a long way to resolving one of the most divisive issues in upland conservation, and help bring together all those who care deeply about the future of the uplands.
“We have always been clear that for any plan to be successful it must address the causes of illegal persecution, as well as tackling persecution itself. Whilst there was never any excuse for illegal killing, the proposals for brood management, which has been used successfully for the reintroduction of other species such as the red kite and sea eagle, removes real concerns about the impact of colonies of hen harriers on grouse moors. The majority of hen harriers that do currently breed in England nest on or adjacent to grouse moors.”